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Robert Reich

When it comes to Medicare, which candidate's plan comes out on top?

President Obama's Affordable Care Act uses its Medicare savings to help children and lower-income Americans afford health care, according to Robert Reich, while the Romney-Ryan plan uses the savings to finance tax cuts for the very wealthy.

By Guest blogger / August 15, 2012

In this April 2011 file photo, Republican Vice Presidential candidate, current House Budget Committee Chairman Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., introduces his controversial "Path to Prosperity" budget recommendations, on Capitol Hill in Washington. Ryan waded in with a machete and a smile, with plans to slice away at Medicare, Social Security, food stamps and virtually every other government program but the military.

J. Scott Applewhite/AP

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Stumping in Florida today, Mitt Romney charged President Obama’s Affordable Care Act will “cut more than $700 billion” out of Medicare.

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Robert is chancellor’s professor of public policy at the University of California at Berkeley. He has served in three national administrations, most recently as secretary of labor under President Clinton. Time Magazine named him one of the 10 most effective cabinet secretaries of the last century. He has written 13 books, including “The Work of Nations,” his latest best-seller “Aftershock: The Next Economy and America’s Future," and a new e-book, “Beyond Outrage.” His new movie, "Inequality for All," is available on Netflix. He is also a founding editor of the American Prospect magazine and chairman of Common Cause.

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What Romney didn’t say was that his running-mate’s budget — approved by House Republicans and by Romney himself — would cut Medicare by the same amount.

The big difference, though, is the Affordable Care Act achieves these savings by reducing Medicare payments to drug companies, hospitals, and other providers rather than cutting payments to Medicare beneficiaries. A July 24, 2012 report from the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office confirms this.

The Romney-Ryan plan, by contrast, achieves its savings by turning Medicare into a voucher whose value doesn’t keep up with expected increases in healthcare costs — thereby shifting the burden onto Medicare beneficiaries, who will have to pay an average of $6,500 a year more for their Medicare insurance, according an  analysis of the Republican plan by the Congressional Budget Office.

Moreover, the Affordable Care Act uses its Medicare savings to help children and lower-income Americans afford health care, and to help seniors pay for prescription drugs by filling the so-called “donut hole” in Medicare Part D coverage.

The Romney-Ryan plan uses the savings to finance even bigger tax cuts for the very wealthy.

Spread the word. Don’t allow the GOP to get away with this demagoguery.

The Christian Science Monitor has assembled a diverse group of the best economy-related bloggers out there. Our guest bloggers are not employed or directed by the Monitor and the views expressed are the bloggers' own, as is responsibility for the content of their blogs. To contact us about a blogger, click here. This post originally ran on www.robertreich.org.

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