Ryan's Medicare Rhetoric Could Hurt in Florida

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Republican presidential candidate and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney speaks during a campaign stop with Florida Sen. Marco Rubio at Mustang Expediting April 23, 2012 in Aston, Pennsylvania. (Getty)

There's no question that Mitt Romney's selection of Paul Ryan as his running mate has galvanized this election. Ryan was greeted with support (barely) loud enough to drown out several hecklers at the Iowa State Fair yesterday on his first solo campaign stop. Experts are saying Paul Ryan is a perfect fit for Iowa. He's Catholic, conservative, and Midwestern.

Florida, though, could be another matter.  

In a state where Medicare cuts are a "third rail issue," Mitt Romney set out on several campaign stops yesterday, conspicuously, by himself. Sergio Bustos, politics editor at the Miami Herald, says that Ryan's selection could even force the candidate to change his stump speech.

Horacio Soberon-Ferrer, an independent voter, doesn't see it that way at all. He's excited by the selection of Ryan, and while he hasn't decided who he's voting for, the new vice presidential candidate has him paying more attention than ever.


Sergio Bustos and Horacio Soberon-Ferrer

Produced by:

Brad Mielke

Comments [13]

Karl B

Obama In November 2009: Right, One-Third Of ObamaCare Funding Comes From Cuts To Medicare


Aug. 14 2012 05:18 PM
Jack Jackson from Central New Jersey

The implied average wage from the $1,288 number for Medicare premiums that you use is $44,413. (which is a little higher than the accepted average wage). Also, the implied work-life comps to over 50 years. There are lots of ways to change this outside of DESTROYING the MEDICARE SYSTEM.

To my mind, the soundest of these ideas are:
1) RAISE the cut off point of yearly earnings subject to FICA. Right now it's at about $110K. How about 5X median household income as a cutoff instead?

2) Bend down the medical cost curve. If US healthcare spending were the same as the U.K. we could reap 5% of GDP to invest in something useful.

A third (slightly wacky) concept is to allow VA hospitals to service the MediCare eligible.
A fourth would be to lower the MediCare eligilibilty age to 50...Imagine the boom in employment as industry realized that these 'golden year' workers come without an insurance expense!

You don't need to 'own' the numbers but you should understand where they fall apart if your going to post them around.

Aug. 14 2012 03:55 PM
Jack Jackson from Central New Jersey

@listener -

What's so 'entitlement' about a fund into which the average American worker has placed 15% of their earnings?

Neither Social Security or MediCare are going bankrupt. They are insurance plans. Premiums may need to increase to cover experience but they will not go bankrupt.

$6T of the $16T you decry occurred during Bush II (from $5T to $11T) Where was your voice while that stimulatory spending occurred? Three-fourths of Obama's $5T increment would not be there if Dubya had not torched the economy. The SSA owns $5T of the public debt. So 1/3 of our debt was borrowed by the government.

Face it...The talk of privatization is just an attempt to duck the commitments that the average worker has already paid for.

Aug. 14 2012 03:32 PM

Oh listener, you and your Faux News "Obama cuts $500 Billion from Medicare" headline. Over the next ten years, Medicare will increase spending for preventative care and close the so-called "doughnut hole" in Part D prescription spending, while at the same time reduce administrative costs (through streamlining of some bureaucracy); slightly increasing premiums on higher-earning beneficiaries; changes to Medicare Advantage Plans and reducing future spending increases on the Medicare system.

Ryan's plan replaced Medicare as we know it with a voucher system which could only be used to purchase private insurance and which was tied to the CPI which has risen less briskly than healthcare spending in general.

This information comes from the Kaiser Foundation, not from a partisan "news" source.

Aug. 14 2012 10:14 AM

Romney is "just sort of showing up" OR "deliberately avoiding places like senior centers".

"Medicare is a popular program" and it is going bankrupt and Ryan seeks to reform the program so it does continue while not effecting those over 55 today.

"Voters in Florida cannot step away from their self interest in Medicare" ignores that the Ryan plan it does not effect senior today at all. It is meant to salvage Medicare for those under 55.
"Philosophical terms"?
How about in terms of simple math and reality and not feckless Romney/Ryan derision.

The guest shows that independent voters are more knowledgable about the facts than the journalists interviewing them.

Aug. 14 2012 10:01 AM

Duh, of COURSE seniors will be upset. They setup a wonderful system which benefitted them at the expense of their children and grand children. To deal with the problem now requires them to admit they made a mistake.

(to present the math, I shamelessly pull from...)

Have Seniors Really Paid for Their Medicare Benefits?
Andrew Biggs | August 18, 2009

Without denying their contributions, let’s put things in perspective.

Start with a person who was born in 1944, began work at age 21, retired at age 65 and enrolled in Medicare. Over the course of his life he paid the Medicare tax out of his wages. According to the 2009 Medicare Trustees Report, the average Medicare benefit per person in 2008 was $11,012. We subtract the average Medicare premium of $1,288 to produce an average net benefit of $9,724. I’ll assume that this person collects the average Medicare benefit from age 65 through age 83 (his life expectancy as of age 65).

Medicare benefits grow in real terms. Medicare Trustees project that health costs will grow around 1 percent faster than the growth of per capita GDP, which they project will grow around 1.3 percent faster than inflation over the next 15 years. So assume that real Medicare benefits will increase by 2.3 percent each year.

To compare taxes and benefits, I convert each to present value terms, assuming a real interest rate of 3 percent. (i.e. taxes paid in the past have 3 percent interest added each year, to account for the fact that these taxes could otherwise have been invested. Future benefits have 3 percent annual interest deducted, to account for the fact that retirees must wait to receive them.)

Results? This typical person paid around $64,971 in Medicare payroll taxes over his lifetime. After netting out Medicare premiums, he’ll receive around $173,886 in lifetime Medicare benefits. The net? He can expect to receive around $108,915 more in benefits than he paid in taxes over his lifetime.

Alternately, in terms of ROI: the typical worker’s Medicare taxes produce an annual compound return of around 6.25 percent above inflation. A low-income worker with earnings at half the average wage would receive an 8.45 percent return on his Medicare taxes, while even a high earner at twice the average wage would receive a 4 percent real return—again, without any market risk.

The scale of Medicare transfers to current beneficiaries is undeniably huge. Since Medicare’s pay-as-you-go financing is zero sum, these transfers, will result in future Medicare beneficiaries receiving far less in benefits than they will pay in taxes.

Republicans should fight the Democratic health plans, they’re bad policy and have been defended by President Obama with no regard for accuracy. Yet conservatives should be careful not to cement in place the idea that Medicare benefits are sacred because they have been “paid for” by seniors. The typical senior hasn’t come close to paying full freight for his Medicare benefits.

Aug. 14 2012 10:00 AM

What is the important story here? The horse-race aspect of the campaign and public perception? Or the nuts and bolts issue of entitlements?

I thought public radio was all about the substance of serious debates, and not fluffy externalities.

Just once, you might try dealing with the real issue.

Aug. 14 2012 09:21 AM

The VP pick is announced TWO DAYS AGO and because Romney/Ryan together did not visit a senior enclave - they are avoiding old people. PLEASE.

If republicans manage a sweep hopefully organizations like NPR/PBS are removed from the public teat. Ads for the democratic party should not be publicly funded under the guise of news. I listen to WNYC often and believe all voices should be heard, but let them compete in the open market like all other news services.

Aug. 14 2012 09:20 AM

We are over 16 trillion in debt and Medicare and Social Security are going bankrupt thanks to the actions and inaction of this President.
Romney and Ryan are presenting a serious plan compared to the unserious and incompetent leadership of Obama.

Ryan's plan does not impact those over 55 and is a plan to SAVE Medicare before it goes broke.
Obama plans to take over 500 billion out of Medicare over ten years to fund Obamacare.

The media should be challenged to be professional journalists and not public relations flacks for one side.
It smells desperate and looks unseemly for "journalists" to carefully avoid facts while magnifying sophistry.

Aug. 14 2012 08:21 AM
Larry Fisher from Brooklyn,N.Y.

I think Paul Ryan is waiting for a spike in old people dying before going to a Senior Citizen home and talking to them...

Can you see his speech going like this,"Look, my plan is not going to affect you, you will be long dead by the time my economic plan comes into play."

Aug. 14 2012 08:20 AM
Bobby from nyc

The real question is: "How many jobs will eliminated because of the cost cutting and how many jobs will they create?" So, is this "Zero Sum" or less? Will Romney/Ryan understand the math...

Aug. 14 2012 08:18 AM

What "everyone" is in agreement about is that MediScare is a great tactic. Entanglements are not in imminent danger of insolvency, as both the Democrats AND Republicans love to promote. I wish people (including many in the media) would do some research before regurgitating sound-bytes.

Aug. 14 2012 07:04 AM
Ed from Larchmont

Paul Ryan's current budget plan is nuanced and complex in how it deals with entitlements. What everyone agrees with is that at the present pace, entitlements won't survive.

Aug. 14 2012 06:06 AM

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