Delete that part about “as we know it.” Have your ad say “Paul Ryan wants to end Medicare.” Ignore the fact that the only thing throwing Granny off the cliff is Obamacare. Republicans want to cut Medicare, say the liberals. Not for anybody already receiving the benefits, nor for anyone age 55 or older. And even at that, the Ryan plan doesn't bump the younger people out of Medicare. He simply makes it an option—stay in, or choose a private plan (or possibly even some combination of each).
Ryan's plan is just that—a plan. He hasn't cut anybody or anything yet. The House passed his measure, only to see it die without debate in the Democrat/Reid Senate. Pandering to people's worst instincts and greatest fears, the Democrats repeat the lie with ever-increasing bullheadedness, making sure that the issue never gets a debate based on the facts rather than the hysteria.
That's right now, not in some distant and theoretical future. There's a double lie involved. The first lie is that it is the Republicans who are gutting Medicare. The second companion lie is the cost of Obamacare, which has been cleverly reduced by the money stolen from the Medicare funding. Nevertheless, even with the stolen money, Obamacare is already estimated to cost three times as much as originally projected.
The Democrats continue to double-down on the lie. The loathsome Debbie Wasserman-Schultz just parrots the lies of the ad. Then, in an unintentional admission, says the $700 billion + cuts were to providers, not to Medicare recipients. It's a distinction completely lacking in a difference. At best, she is admitting that fewer and fewer doctors and hospitals will accept Medicare as [under]payment. But if the net result is fewer current Medicare patients receiving care, a cut is a cut is a cut. They count on Granny not caring who is throwing her off the cliff, only that somebody is, and that somebody must be the Republicans, Mitt Romney, and Paul Ryan.
The Republican refutation of the lies must contain two elements. Obviously, they need to debunk the lie about the Ryan proposal ending Medicare. But at the same time, they must make it abundantly clear that Obamacare is the main culprit and that it is only the Democrats who have stolen $700 billion from Medicare to help fund Obamacare. The Republican plan, in its final form, will preserve the current plan and benefits essentially unchanged for those over the age of 55. Nothing will be taken away from them. And if Ryan can somehow get it into those necessarily short sound bites, he can explain that the elimination of Obamacare would free Republicans up to put Medicare on a sound financial footing while at least keeping current benefits even with cost-of-living increases.
It is important to remember that Paul Ryan's plan is a policy wonk's dream and the average person's nightmare. Not because it's wrong, but because it is necessarily complicated. So far, anything said by Ryan has been aimed at his fellow legislators. That's very good, but it won't work when trying to explain it to the general public. Youthful, affable, knowledgeable and articulate Ryan is a very savvy young man. I have no doubt that he recognizes the problem, and will address it properly and forcefully in the near future. He has already proven that a conservative who knows how to talk to his constituencies can win as a conservative Republican in a liberal Democratic district. He'll bring that ability to the national stage shortly.
Why hasn't this been done yet? It's a simple matter of coordination. The “Ryan Plan,” however much it may need tweaking (or not) is the Ryan plan. But he is only the brand-new vice presidential candidate. Before the plan can be rolled out, it must (in some form) become the Romney Plan. As important as he is (and will be) to America's economic recovery, Ryan knows he is part of a team, a Republican ticket, and he is not the top of the ticket. Once Romney and Ryan have had time to get their heads together and agree on a common attack, I have no doubt that huge numbers of moderates and Independents will quickly be relieved of their fears.
Granny will survive if the Romney-Ryan ticket wins and Republicans re-take the Senate. If Obama is reelected, we'll see a different figure pushing the wheelchair over the cliff. Don't expect the public to change its mind overnight, but more importantly, be prepared for Ryan (and Romney) to formulate an attack that will entirely change the discussion. For the moment, the Republicans are on the defensive. Expect a strong offensive to begin right around the time of the convention.
Money Quote: "I will veto any attempts to undo my Medicare cuts." (Barack Obama, 2009)