Feb. 10, 2016 SIGN IN | REGISTER

Gov. Christie, Answer These Tough Questions

. Repeal of the 2010 health care law would restore the "doughnut hole" for Medicare prescription drugs and require Medicare recipients to pay out of pocket for preventive care, among other things. How would a President Romney pay for the elimination of the doughnut hole and free access to preventive care for seniors, which would be required to meet his pledge to keep current Medicare recipients whole? Would he increase payroll taxes? (See question above.)

. The ubiquitous $716 billion in Medicare cuts comes largely from providers, such as hospitals. Providers had agreed to those cuts in return for the expanded market coming from the insurance mandate. Removing the $716 billion would mean they would have higher fees - and because the fee costs are shared between the Medicare program and its patients, their out-of-pocket expenses would rise. How would a President Romney pay to take those seniors' expenses back to where he had promised they would be?

. The Ryan-Romney budget would cut Medicaid by 30 percent and turn it into a block grant to the states. The single-largest component of Medicaid is nursing home care. To bring it to the state level, how would Gov. Christie take a 30 percent hit in Medicaid money and still provide care to the 45,000 or so New Jerseyites now in these facilities (the vast majority of whom rely on Medicaid)? How would he explain to the infirm elderly and their families the hard truths about the cutbacks in attendants, beds, amenities and other areas that would otherwise follow?

. Ryan, in his convention speech, spoke movingly when he said, "The truest measure of any society is how it treats those who cannot defend or care for themselves." The 30 percent cut in Medicaid, along with the repeal of the health care overhaul, would eliminate coverage for about 30 million Americans, including millions of poor elderly. How would you make sure you can meet the expectations Ryan called for?

. The Ryan-Romney budget that would leave Social Security and Medicare alone for 10 years, increase defense to a minimum of 4 percent of the gross domestic product, make the Bush tax cuts permanent and reduce government spending to 20 percent of GDP would require 40 percent cuts in all of the rest of domestic government over four years. That means homeland security, the FBI, food safety, cancer research, air traffic control, education and highways, among many other programs. How would you accomplish all of this without devastating infrastructure or endangering Americans' safety?

. Gov. Christie, let me address you directly: I know these are tough questions. But you are a tough guy - and you more than anyone else at the convention in Tampa, Fla., made clear that your stock in trade is giving those tough, hard truths to people in New Jersey and elsewhere. I eagerly await your response.

Norman Ornstein is a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute.

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