Mitt Romney campaigns this week at Flagler College in St. Augustine, Fla. (Phil Sandlin / Associated…)
It looks like Mitt Romney, or Paul Ryan -- or both -- are already having their John Kerry moment.
You may recall how George W. Bush effectively branded Kerry a flip-flopper in 2004, helped along by Kerry’s statement that "I actually did vote for the $87 billion, before I voted against it" regarding his vote for an $87-billion supplemental appropriation for military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Well, what’s good for the goose may turn out to be not so good for our Republican ganders in 2012.
On Wednesday, Romney and Ryan went into full trout mode, flip-flopping big time -- in this case on Medicare. And what a tangled net the two are seeking to escape.
The easy part? They are attacking President Obama’s planned $700 billion in cuts to Medicare.
The awkward part? Ryan has proposed $700 billion in cuts to Medicare too. And Romney has backed Ryan's plan.
The answer? Here’s what my colleague Michael Finnegan reported Wednesday:
In an interview on “CBS This Morning,” Romney was asked how he squared his running mate’s plan to cut spending on the popular healthcare program for the elderly with his criticism of President Obama for making the same reductions.
“First of all, Congressman Ryan has joined my campaign, and his campaign is my campaign now, and we’re on exactly the same page,” Romney said in response to anchor Anthony Mason’s question. “And my campaign has made it very clear: The president’s cuts of $716 billion to Medicare -- those cuts are to be restored if I become president and Paul Ryan becomes vice president.”
OK, that’s clear. Romney has put Ryan into the crate on top of his station wagon and explained a few things.
But stay with me -- this thing has more twists and turns than the Angeles Crest Highway.
Ryan’s plan to revamp Medicare -- which included Obama’s $716 billion in cuts to the projected growth of Medicare -- was a central feature of a federal budget proposed by the congressman and passed by the Republican-controlled House in April. Romney has said he would sign it as president. The voucher system would begin in 10 years.
Oops. So, now Romney is against the cuts that he was for before?
(Maybe he should just try “Move along now, nothing to see here. Anyone wanna talk about how much I love Israel?”)
But heck, let’s have Ryan take a stab at sorting this out. It’ll be good practice for the vice presidential debate:
On Tuesday, Ryan, too, was asked to explain why he and Romney were criticizing Obama for Medicare reductions embraced by Ryan.
“We are the ones who are not raiding Medicare to pay for Obamacare,” Ryan told Fox News anchor Brit Hume.
Ryan appeared to take stands on both sides of the Medicare reductions. While supporting the cuts in his own budget plan, Ryan said he voted against those cuts in the president’s healthcare overhaul.
“I voted repeatedly in Congress to repeal all of Obamacare, including this cut of $716 billion to pay for Obamacare,” Ryan said.
I know, I know. Raise your hand if you’re lost too. But somewhere, John Kerry is having a hearty laugh right about now.
The truth, of course, is that Romney and Ryan can’t afford to alienate elderly voters, who may hate the government and “Obamacare” but just love their Social Security and Medicare. So they’re jumping through hoops to have it both ways.
Which, of course, is the problem people have had with Romney from the beginning.
Ask him to take a stand, and he’ll take one: Whichever one gets him the most votes.
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