August 15th, 2012
04:54 PM ET
Dubuque, Iowa (CNN) – Continuing an increasingly heated campaign exchange on the topic of Medicare, President Obama defended his record here on Wednesday against attacks from his Republican rivals that he has cut benefits to seniors.
Linking the reforms included in Republican vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan’s congressional budget proposal with Mitt Romney’s campaign platform, Obama argued that they’re attacking his plan because they don’t want to sell their own.
“I think they know their plan’s not very popular,” the president said. “You can tell that because they’re being pretty dishonest about my plan, especially by the way when it comes to Medicare. Now this is something I’ve got to point out here because they are just throwing everything at the wall to see if it sticks.”
“That means seniors would no longer have the guarantee of Medicare,” Obama argued. “They’d get a voucher to buy private insurance, and because the voucher wouldn’t keep up with costs, the plan offered by Governor Romney’s running mate, Congressman Ryan, would force seniors to pay an extra $6,400 a year and I assume they don’t have it.”
The Romney campaign contends that their candidates’ plan for Medicare reform is a “premium support system,” unlike the plan offered by Ryan in Congress, and it argues in both advertisements and statements that the president has damaged the popular entitlement program by cutting $716 billion from Medicare to pay for “Obamacare.”
While the Obama campaign disputes the veracity of this claim, the president didn’t get bogged down by the details on Wednesday.
“Here’s what you need to know,” the president told a crowd of 3,000. “I have strengthened Medicare. I have made reforms that have saved millions of seniors with Medicare hundreds of dollars on their prescription drugs. I’ve proposed reforms that will save Medicare money by getting rid of wasteful spending in the health care system, reforms that will not touch your Medicare benefits, not by a dime.”
Obama went on to argue that those reforms have “already extended Medicare by nearly a decade.”
“Their plan ends Medicare as we know it,” the president said. “My plan reduces the costs of Medicare by cracking down on fraud and waste and subsidies to insurance companies. Their plan makes seniors pay more so they can give another tax cut to millionaires and billionaires. That’s the difference between our plans on Medicare.”
Campaigning with his wife for the first time since officially kicking off his reelection bid on May 5th, the president and first lady also reminisced about their memories of the Hawkeye State from his 2008 caucus victory.
“Iowa was our very first experience with a national campaign, truly,” Michelle Obama said while introducing her husband. “It is because of all of you that Malia and Sasha still think campaigning is fun.”
The campaign often refers to the first lady as the most effective messenger of the president’s policies, and in her introduction she tried to personalize her message in an effort to connect with middle-class voters. Recounting financial hardships endured by the president’s mother and the sexist discrimination suffered by his grandmother, Mrs. Obama told the crowd that her husband was a man who understood them.
“So what I remind people is that your president knows what it means when a family struggles,” she said, seeming to highlight the vastly different upbringings of the two presidential candidates. “This is not a hypothetical situation for him. He knows what it means to want something better for your kids and your grandkids.”