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Democrats Find Useful Fodder in Paul Ryan's Record

Chris Maddaloni/CQ Roll Call File Photo
A memo circulated by Caucus Vice Chairman Charles Schumer on Tuesday encourages his fellow Democratic Senators to continue to criticize the GOP over the Ryan budget plan and Medicare.

Updated: 7:43 p.m.

Presumptive GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney's selection of Rep. Paul Ryan (Wis.) as his running mate makes the Senate Democratic talking points almost write themselves.

That's essentially the point of a memo circulated to Democratic Senators by Caucus Vice Chairman Charles Schumer (N.Y.) on Tuesday.

Schumer and other Senate Democrats have highlighted the budget plan drafted by Ryan, the House Budget chairman, for years, with attacks on its Medicare and tax provisions that have become quite familiar on Capitol Hill.

Schumer said, however, that the electorate outside the Beltway may not have paid enough attention, and he wants Democratic Senators to continue on the same themes.

"We know these messages are powerful and cause independents to abandon Republicans. As familiar as these points may seem by now, we must keep repeating them - for two reasons," Schumer wrote.

"First, many general election voters are only now turning their attention to the particulars of the political debate. Second, since choosing Ryan, Romney is rather absurdly seeking to distance himself from the most controversial aspects of Ryan's plan," Schumer added. "We must do our part to make Romney own the Ryan plan in its entirety."

Romney has already said he has some areas of disagreement with at least some of Ryan's plans, but he has also said he would have signed Ryan's budget into law if it came to his desk as president. (Presidents do not sign budget resolutions, but budget reconciliation measures and other legislation implementing budget blueprints do need presidential approval.)

However, Romney has said he differs with Ryan on how to deal with scheduled reductions to Medicare that are being used to fund President Barack Obama's 2010 health care law.

"My commitment is, if I become president, I'm going to restore that $716 billion to the Medicare trust fund, so that current seniors can know that trust fund is not being raided, and we're going to make sure and get Medicare on track to be solvent long term on a permanent basis," Romney said.

The 2010 health care law reduced payments for a program known as Medicare Advantage. Under Medicare Advantage, seniors may opt to have a private insurance plan in lieu of traditional Medicare, with the private company being paid by the government for the service at a higher cost.

Romney has previously signaled he would repeal the Medicare cuts rather than redirecting them as in the Ryan plan.

Repealing the Medicare cuts from the health care law rather than keeping the money saved from the cuts in Medicare would send about $200 billion to private insurers over the next decade, a Democratic aide said.

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