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Obama's $700 billion Medicare-cut problem

A glimpse of the Mitt Romney campaign's pushback against President Obama's Mediscare plans surfaced Sunday morning on Face the Nation.

And Obama's spokeswoman, Stephanie Cutter, did all the talking Republicans needed.

At issue is the fact that, while Romney running-mate Paul Ryan wants to transform and cut future Medicare expenditures by about $700 billion, President Obama's healthcare plan cuts $700 billion over a decade. Cutter might have stumbled when asked about it on Face the Nation.

"You know I heard Mitt Romney deride the $700 billion cuts in Medicare that the president achieved through health care reform," she said, noting the "savings" in ObamaCare.

Two words are key here: "cuts" and "achieved."

The 10 second clip starting reverberating in the conservative blogosphere. A headline from Townhall.com tells you all you need to know: Sorry Seniors: Obama Deputy Campaign Manager Calls Gutting of Medicare an Achievement.

Unmentioned by Townhall was that the Ryan plan could also cut as much money. In fact, one veresion of the Ryan plan passed in 2011 appears to copy the ObamaCare Medicare cuts dollar for dollar. Is that "gutting" the program, too? And unlike ObamaCare, the Ryan plan's changes could cut more services by decade's end because of the way it structures its "premium support" system, which Democrats call a voucher.

Still, Democrats might find it tougher to make an attack on the Ryan plan stick because ObamaCare isn't popular, either. And the argument that ObamaCare won't affect services is tough to swallow. Cutting reimbursement rates affects the businesses who provide Medicare services.

There is a big difference, though, in the thrust of the reductions bewteen Ryan and Obama's plans. ObamaCare specifically calls for no reductions in benefits (though, again, if you squeeze providers, benefits will be harder to receive) because it's essentially a defined benefit plan. Ryan calls for a defined contribution plan. And under Ryan's scenario, there's a good bet that the contribution won't be enough to cover health expenses that ObamaCare seeks to guarantee.

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