On Social Security, Ryan repeated the oft-told lie that the program is "going bankrupt." He ignores the fact that Social Security's trust fund grew in 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2011 - every year of this recession. He ignores the program's $2.7 trillion trust fund. Perhaps Ryan should consult his running mate, who is running on his business record, whether a business that makes billions of dollars a year and has $2.7 trillion in reserves is "going bankrupt." Certainly Social Security needs changes to make sure that it does not deplete its trust fund 25 years from now, but this nonsense about bankruptcy needs to stop!
The one moment of truth on seniors' issues from Congressman Ryan came when he admitted to embracing the risky Social Security privatization scheme pushed by George W. Bush in 2005. It's no surprise, because Mitt Romney endorses the same concept in his book. Faced with the 2008 market crash, which would have devastated retirement security for millions if we had adopted the Bush/Ryan scheme, he continued to stand by his support of that awful plan that would have enriched Wall Street and sent seniors back to the poor house.
Ryan doubled-down on the discredited line that the Affordable Care Act "cut $716 million out of Medicare." Thank goodness the vice president correctly pointed out that the savings in future Medicare payments to insurance companies and hospitals (not doctors) actually helps pay for important improvements in Medicare services, like less out-of-pocket costs for drugs and preventative services. I wish he would have asked the congressman to explain why, if he believes these cuts are so devastating, he included them in his own budget!
On the issue of Obamacare, Ryan tried to fool the American people into thinking that Medicare Advantage would be hurt by Obamacare. He cited predictions from before the law was passed about Medicare Advantage beneficiaries losing their plans. Biden countered that Medicare Advantage enrollment is up and premiums are down since the law was passed. Ryan also lied about the Independent Payment Advisory Board, or IPAB. He repeated Romney's lie from the previous week's debate that this board would have unilateral authority to make benefit cuts. The truth is, this board was created to study effectiveness of different payment methods, and has no force of law.
Ryan certainly tried to soften the blow that his own plan deals to Medicare. He disputed the studies that said the first Ryan budget would have added $6,400 per year to the average beneficiary's out-of-pocket costs to start with. However, he could not explain what seniors who could not pay the difference between his "premium support" and the cost to purchase insurance or buy back into a weakened Medicare would do. Instead he lied about having bipartisan support for his plan! Democratic Sen. Ron Wyden worked with Congressman Ryan on a position paper on Medicare, but he does not support the Ryan budget because in his words, "The Romney/Ryan plan on Medicare is further proof that Mitt Romney is singularly unfit to end gridlock and bring bipartisan solutions to Washington."
Could it be more clear which candidates we seniors can trust? Congressman Ryan only stopped lying about Medicare to briefly tell us he would privatize Social Security. He could not have come across more untrustworthy to someone like me who keeps up with the facts.
Jean Friday of Westmoreland County is president of Pennsylvania Alliance for Retired Americans, www.pennretiredamericans.org