President Barack Obama's re-election campaign released a new ad Friday aimed at defending his approach to Medicare, which has come under withering, preemptive attack by Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan.
The 30-second ad, set to run in New Hampshire, Virginia, North Carolina, Florida, Ohio, Iowa, Colorado and Nevada, enlists AARP to counter the Republican charge that Obamacare loots Medicare for part of its funding.
"The nonpartisan AARP says Obamacare cracks down on Medicare fraud, waste and abuse, and strengthens guaranteed benefits," the narrator says. "And the Ryan Plan? AARP says it would undermine the market power of Medicare and could lead to higher costs for seniors."
The commercial came after Romney and Ryan unleashed a barrage of attacks on the president over his landmark health care law—a perennial target of conservatives—over the way it draws some $716 billion from Medicare. The Republicans charge that this takes years off the popular but costly program's life, a criticism disputed by independent fact-checking organizations, and may reduce benefits.
Obama has bluntly branded those attacks "dishonest" and countered that his health care law doesn't shrink benefits but targets waste (notably by reducing reimbursement rates for hospitals, drugmakers and insurers, while predicting that an influx of new patients will make up for losses.) And his campaign has underlined that the House Republicans' budget, crafted by Ryan, not only embraces those reductions but envisions shifting the popular program to a voucherlike system that could see elderly patients paying more out-of-pocket costs.
The issue has particular political resonance among elderly voters, who are critical to the outcome in vital battleground states like Florida. When Romney picked Ryan, Democrats exulted, hoping to roll up the Republican House Budget Committee chairman's government spending blueprint and whack Team Romney on the nose with it. But Romney and Ryan instead immediately launched a preemptive attack on the president over Medicare.