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New Romney/Ryan ad plays offense on Medicare. Will that work?

Mitt Romney's selection of Paul Ryan as his running mate means the team has to play defense on Ryan's past Medicare reform proposals. It's doing that by trying to get in the front foot.

By Staff writer / August 14, 2012

Republican vice presidential candidate, Rep. Paul Ryan (R) of Wisconsin, pauses during a campaign rally in Lakewood, Colo., Tuesday.

Jack Dempsey/AP

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Team Romney is taking the offensive on Medicare with a new ad that accuses President Obama of undermining the financial stability of the program.

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Washington Editor

Peter Grier is The Christian Science Monitor's Washington editor. In this capacity, he helps direct coverage for the paper on most news events in the nation's capital.

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The spot, titled “You Paid,” begins with a still photo of a concerned-looking white-haired guy. “You paid into Medicare for years, every paycheck,” says the narrator, while the camera moves in tighter on the shot.

Then there’s a quick cut to a photo of an empty wheelchair. “Now when you need it, Obama has cut $716 billion from Medicare. Why? To pay for Obamacare,” says the narrator. “So now the money you paid for your guaranteed health care is going to a massive new government program that’s not for you.”

Then a shot of a smiling Mitt Romney and his new running mate, Paul Ryan, appears. “The Romney/Ryan plan protects Medicare for today’s seniors and strengthens Medicare for the next generation,” it concludes.

If nothing else, the quick release of this ad shows that the Romney campaign knows it has to move fast to blunt Mr. Obama’s charge that Congressman Ryan wants to end Medicare as we know it. Plus, it picks up on talking points that some proponents of Ryan’s approach have been urging the GOP to use.

The first of these is obvious: that $716 billion slice out of the program’s funds.

Romney and his campaign surrogates “need to point out that it was President Obama, not Romney, who cut $700 billion from Medicare to fund other priorities. Listening to [top Democrats] on the Sunday shows, you’d think it was the other way around,” wrote American Enterprise Institute resident scholar Andrew Biggs earlier this week.

To this Democrats would reply, "Yes, the Affordable Care Act did make that reduction. But the money was cut from Medicare payments to hospitals, Medicaid prescription drugs, and reimbursements to private insurance plans under the pilot Medicare Advantage program. It did not come directly from benefits."

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