From: Ron Klain, Chief of Staff to VPOTUS
Subject: Debate Advice
Mr. Vice President, we have a situation. Following the historic drubbing in last week’s presidential debate in Denver at the hands of a never-before-seen, “pro-middle-class” Mitt Romney, the race has tightened to a dead heat. The President’s political fate now rests with you.
I know. The thought scares us just as much as it scares you.
But don’t panic, Sir.
Thursday’s vice presidential debate offers you an ideal chance, in front of 40 million viewers, to save the President’s bacon. (And to clarify your widely misinterpreted statement that “The middle class has been buried for the last four years” under our Administration’s policies.)
The key to victory: scare the dentures out of seniors.
One month ago, Gov. Romney enjoyed an incredible 20-point lead among voters over the age of 60. But thanks to our “Medi-scare” television ads, we’ve been able to whittle that lead down to just a few points.
Now you can finish the job. Here’s how:
1) No matter what the question is, begin and end your answer with the words, “Republican Medicare cuts.” Yes, I realize the Romney-Ryan Medicare reform plan doesn’t make any changes affecting people 55 and older, doesn’t reduce benefits, and doesn’t ration patients’ access to care, like our plan does. It actually gives seniors more choices and makes the program more affordable for future generations. But hey, we are desperate here!
And as you always remind us, “Politics ain’t tiddly-bags.”
2) Make frequent use of the word “vouchers,” a term that scares some voters into mistakenly thinking their Medicare benefits will no longer be guaranteed.
Note: Ryan is not actually proposing vouchers, even though they would make Medicare more effective for seniors and sustainable for taxpayers. Instead, he’s proposing to expand and streamline the existing Medicare Advantage program, an optional (and note: very popular) Medicare benefit that lets seniors choose from an array of private, government-regulated health plans.
3) When Rep. Paul Ryan brings up the $716 billion in ten-year Medicare cuts that our Administration enacted to pay for ObamaCare, shoot right back that his own budget plan includes that same amount of cuts.
4) Rep. Ryan may counter that his Medicare savings come from greater choice and competition, while the Obama-Biden plan rations patients’ access to care, using a 15-member board of unelected “experts.” If this happens, deflect! Nail him with the following, well-rehearsed line: “Young man, you should be ashamed of yourself, planning to give a flimsy little voucher to your own grandmother, just so you can give humongous tax cuts to your rich friends!”
(It would be great if you could work in a reference to “corporate jets” here, as well.)
Note: Romney’s plan actually maintains the overall amount of tax revenue paid by the rich, by closing loopholes while reducing rates. But don’t let the facts get in the way of a great line.
5) Avoid criticizing Medicare Advantage, on which Romney-Ryan is based. Fully 25 percent of seniors have opted into this program. Many MA plans charge zero additional premiums and offer more benefits than the traditional, 1960s Medicare program. In fact, MA is so popular that one of our best buddies, Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Florida) actually forced us to exempt his entire state from our $300 billion, ten-year MA cuts as the price of his vote for ObamaCare.
6) Praise AARP. The seniors’ lobby, which stands to make $100 million a year off of ObamaCare, defends the President’s huge Medicare cuts. Can you believe it? They actually argue that slashing Medicare to pay for a new entitlement “strengthens Medicare’s trust fund”! Do not point out that the program’s actuaries reject this claim or that it makes no sense.
7) If Ryan notes that the existing, unreformed Medicare program is broken; that it’s financially unsustainable; that it’s currently threatened by a mind-boggling, $36 trillion funding shortfall; or that it’s so inefficient that it employs thousands of pen pushers to administer 100,000 pages of mind-numbing rules, yet still manages to waste 10-20 percent of Medicare’s roughly $500 billion-a-year budget on erroneous and fraudulent payments — accuse the GOP of wanting to “end Medicare as we know it.”
And whatever you do, don’t admit that ending Medicare is what our plan does — by letting it go bankrupt. We’ve got an election to win!
P.S. Remember, always kiss the ladies on the cheek, NOT ON THE LIPS.