(Newsroom America) -- In the first of what his campaign plans as a weekly podcast, presumptive GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney slammed President Obama over Medicare, refuting his assertion that Republicans want to slash funding while claiming that the president's health reform law already cuts some $700 billion in benefits.
"This November, America will make a choice about the direction we want to go as a country – and nowhere is that choice clearer than on the issue of Medicare," Romney said. "President Obama’s healthcare law raided $716 billion from the Medicare trust fund. And he did that to finance his takeover of the healthcare system."
Obama and Democrats have accused the prospective Romney/Ryan ticket of defunding Medicare, noting that budgets proposed by Ryan, seen by many as a fiscal hawk, have included provisions to reduce funding over time.
But Romney, during his podcast, said his proposal does nothing to change the current funding arrangement for seniors 55 and older. And, he says, his plan will offer younger Americans a choice to either remain in, and pay into, the current system, or opt out for a private plan, thereby saving taxpayers money.
Romney, who signed a similar healthcare law as governor of Massachusetts, also criticized aspects of the healthcare law he says could eventually deny seniors some benefits.
He said the "law also put in place a board of 15 unelected bureaucrats and gave them the power to make additional cuts to Medicare without even having to get approval from Congress. This means they could deny elderly Americans the care they’ve worked for their entire lives – all because President Obama trusts bureaucrats more than he trusts seniors and their doctors.
"And here’s one more troubling aspect of all this," he said. "According to independent, non-partisan scorekeepers, these cuts the President’s people will take to Medicare won’t prevent it from going bankrupt: Experts estimate that Medicare’s trust funds will be exhausted just twelve short years from now."
On the campaign trail in Dubuque, Iowa, earlier this week, Obama defended his own plan and said the Romney/Ryan ticket was mischaracterizing his own.
"I think they know their plan is not very popular," he said. "You can tell that because they're being pretty dishonest about my plan."
"Here' what you need to know," Obama continued. "I have made reforms that have saved millions of seniors with Medicare hundreds of dollars on their prescription drugs," he said, referencing the so-called "donut hole" that Medicare recipients face every year, when they reach the limits of funding for medications. "I have proposed reforms that will save Medicare money by getting rid of wasteful spending in the system. Reforms that will not touch your Medicare benefits, not by a dime."
He went onto say his plan has "already extended Medicare for a decade."
Romney, during his podcast, touted the Ryan-backed reform plan.
"I released a plan to save and strengthen Medicare – without making any changes for those that are 55 years of age and older. And then shortly after that, my running mate, Paul Ryan, he worked in a bipartisan way to advance a nearly identical series of reforms in Congress," he said, adding that the first order of business, if elected, would be to repeal "Obamacare," which he said was going to add billions in new fees, taxes and expenses to seniors and the healthcare industry as a whole.
"That law is threatening seniors, and it is a maze of new federal mandates, and taxes, and penalties that’s hampering job creation," Romney said. "Once the partisan roadblock is removed, we can work with leaders from both parties to advance real solutions to save Medicare."
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