Politics isn't just about ideas, or having the right idea. It is about how you frame those ideas, and sell it to the American people. Today, in Central Florida, Paul Ryan gave a speech to a Republican audience in The Villages, a 55+ retirement community on the borders of Lake and Marion counties. As there was no official transcript of this speech, I had to listen and transcribe it myself to analyze the speech. Follow me below the fleur-de-kos for my analysis.
First, after transcribing nearly 25 minutes of speech, I learned one thing. Republicans, and Paul Ryan in general know how to sell things. He knows how to use emotion to cover and sell ideas that will require future generations to utilize vouchers to pay for healthcare. He knows how to use the "good son" image to sell his Medicare plan to seniors with far more skill than I had ever anticipated. He is much more dangerous than Sarah Palin in this respect.
In fact, this is one of the areas the Democrats always lose in the framing war. We are great at charts, graphs, numbers and logic, but we often lack the ability to tug at those emotional heart strings. We have to learn how to better appeal to those instinctual aspects of human behavior, and Paul Ryan does this in his speech.
So let's look at the speech:
Hey everybody! How are you? Ahh, Wow! I want to introduce you to my mom. This is my mom, Betty. She is why I’m here. She and her grandkids are why I’m here. Say hi to my mom Betty. Thanks ma, have a seat ma. Uhh. Here ya go, mom. helps her down the stairsRyan begins with a tactic straight out of the republican playbook. As pointed out in the front page article just linked, the Republicans are employing a new strategy when talking about Medicare:
• Inoculate by pledging to save and protect Medicare; use credible third party validators (mom or seniors)Ryan employed several these bullet points throughout his speech.
• Collect hard evidence that your Democrat opposes repealing 'Obamacare'
• Create a clear choice with your Democrat for backing 'Obamacare' and $500 billion in Medicare cuts
• Republicans can actually WIN the Medicare fight
• Once Medicare is litigated, the race focuses on economic issues
Friends, we have a big choice to make. This is no ordinary election. It’s not an ordinary time. We have a choice. We can stay on the path we are on. The one President Obama has put us on. It’s a nation deeper in debt. It’s a nation further in doubt. It’s a nation in decline. Or… we can elect a leader. A leader who will make the tough decisions, who will apply our founding principles, and get us back on track restore the American idea and get people back to work.Ryan is attempting to both separate he and Romney from Bush, and to put the blame for the economic problems squarely on Obama, despite the fact that Obama inherited an economy that was on a downturn and unstable. We have to counter this by pointing out that Obama plugged the leaks and stabilized the economy. He did this with the successful bailout of the auto industry, and with the successes of the Obama stimulus package.
You see, President Obama and other politicians like him in Washington have become more focused on their next election, than they have on the next generation. Not us, we are not going to do that. We will lead. We want to earn your support. We want to deserve victory. So that when we win, we have the mandates, the moral authority to stop kicking the can down the road and get this country back on track.
It’s very clear that President Obama… You guys see that? points to the crowd It’s very clear… You guys see that? Yup, it’s coming. You got the medic coming? unintelligible shouting from crowd Thank you very much. Say hi back for me. Haha. It’s very clear that President Obama inherited a difficult situation. There’s no two ways about it. The problem is, he made matters worse! This is why the president has run out of ideas. This is why the President is not running on hope and change anymore. He’s running on anger and frustration, fear and smear. We’re not going to do that. We need real leadership. Let me tell you about the man who is about to be the next President of the United States...and his name is Mitt Romney.
I don’t think I’ve seen a time in our nation’s history where the man and the moment have met so perfectly. This man is a leader. Everything Mitt Romney has done in his life has prepared him for this moment in our history to provide the kind of leadership we need. look at the beautiful family he’s raised. Remember the Olympics in the late 1990s? Remember the scandals, the wasteful spending the bloat, the corruption? Sounds kind of familiar doesn’t it? when they needed someone to turn it around, who did Salt lake call? They called Mitt Romney. And Mitt Romney turned those Olympics around and they made America proud, and we thank him for that leadership.Well, it looks like Romney wants to try to run on his record after all. This gives Democrats the opportunity to continue to point out the constant shifting of positions depending on the moment. It also gives democrats the opportunity to discuss Obama's own successes in office. I would contend that facts alone will not be enough. As I stated above, when talking to someone about politics Democrats tend to rely more on logic and less on emotions. There is no reason we can't do both. I would point out that personally, for me Obama and Congressional democrats funding of the Department of Homeland Security helped to save many police and firefighter jobs, which resonates with me personally as my dad was a firefighter for 30 years and ensuring that those families of heroes like our police and firefighters continue to have jobs in this tough economy really strikes a chord with me. Or that as a veteran myself, I was really pleased to see that now gay soldiers can openly serve in the military and serve their country without fear of being kicked out by state-sanctioned discrimination. Not the best example, but I have a far more personal connection to the Affordable Care Act.
Look at what he’s done in business. He helped start new businesses. He helped turn around struggling businesses. he helped create great businesses that we all know now: Sports Authority, Bright Horizons, Staples. This is a man who actually created jobs. Who knows what it takes to get people back to work, to get businesses running, to create prosperity, to help people in need.
Take a look at what he did when he was governor of Massachusetts. Of all contrast that we can have, this is as clear as it gets. President Obama came into office promising to create jobs and prevent unemployment from ever getting above 8%. It’s been above 8% for 42 months. When Mitt Romney was governor of Massachusetts, unemployment went down. Twenty-three million American today are struggling to find work. Nearly 1 in 6 American are in poverty today. Household income, family income has gone down by more than $4,000 over the past 4 years. When Mitt Romney was governor of Massachusetts, family income went up by 5,000 dollars over his six years. Remember President Obama used to say, he’s going to bring everybody together? There weren’t Red States or Blue States, just the United States of America. We’ll set aside childish things. It’s the most partisan atmosphere I’ve ever seen and this is the third President I have served with. When Mitt Romney was governor of Massachusetts, a Republican in a Democratic state with a Democratic legislature consisting of 87% of the legislature. What did Mitt Romney do? He reached across the isle, he extended a hand, he negotiated and he balanced the budget without raising taxes. This is the kind of man for this kind of moment we need to lead our nation at this crucial moment.
Now, you heard the President has been talking about Medicare a bit more lately? laughs We want this debate, we need this debate, and we are going to win this debate. Now, like a lot of Americans...when I think about Medicare...it’s not just a program. It’s not just a bunch of numbers. It’s what my mom relies on. It’s what my grandma had. You see, like a lot of people--and I see some Wisconsin hats all around here! Wow, that’s a pretty good showing. waves Hey, Pat. We have this rule in Wisconsin. Kind of an unwritten rule. You turn 65, you gotta go South for the winter. laughs We call ‘em “snowbirds.” My mom’s a snowbird, she’s a Florida resident. She lives just down the road over near Lauderdale. And she, like so many people here, she comes here for the winter. Just like so many folks from all over the country do. You know, my grandma moved in with us. With my mom and me, when I was in high school. She had advanced Alzheimer’s. My mom and I were her two primary care givers. You learn a lot about life, uh, you learn a lot about your elderly, seniors, and your family. You learn a lot about Alzheimer’s. Medicare was there for our family, for my grandma when we needed it then. And Medicare is there for my mom when she needs it now, and we have to keep that guaranteed. My mom has been on Medicare for over ten years, and I won’t tell you exactly how many years over ten years she’s been on it. She plays tennis every week, she exercises everyday. She planned her retirement around this promise that the government made her because she paid her payroll taxes into this program, which she made this...which she had this promise with. That’s a promise we have to keep.Now we are to the meat of the speech. Ryan is trying to step around using the word voucher at all, and still sell this thing like he is really saving medicare and not dismantling it. He is trying to appeal to the idea that senior have got their care, and they won't change that. This has to be countered by asking some questions.
Here is what the President won’t tell you about his Medicare plan, about Obamacare. The President raids $716 billion from the Medicare program to pay for the Obamacare program. What’s more? In addition to that, he puts a board of 15 unelected, unaccountable bureaucrats in charge of Medicare who are required to cut Medicare in ways that will lead to denied care for current seniors. You want to know what Medicare is saying about this, from Medicare officials themselves? 1 out of 6 of our hospitals and our nursing homes will go out of business as a result of this. 4 million seniors are project to lose their Medicare Advantage plans that they chose and they enjoy today under this Obama plan. What’s worse is the President’s campaign calls this an achievement. Do you think raiding Medicare to pay for Obamacare is an achievement? Do you think empowering a board of bureaucrats to cut Medicare is an achievement? Neither do I. Medicare should not be used as a piggy bank for Obamacare. Medicare should be the promise that is made to our current seniors, period. End of story!
Here is what Mitt Romney and I will do. We will end the raid of Medicare. We will restore the promise of this program. And we will make sure that this board of bureaucrats will not mess with my mom’s healthcare or your mom’s healthcare. Now, let me just see a show of hands. How many of you are 55 or over? (everyone raises hand as the minimum age for living in The Villages is 55) Wow! Okay. Haha. Okay how many of you are not? Our solution to preserve, protect, and save Medicare does not affect your benefits. Let me repeat that. our plan does not affect the benefits for people who are in or near retirement. It’s a promise that was made and a promise that must be kept. But in order to make sure we can guarantee that promise for my mom’s generation, for those baby boomers that are retiring everyday. We must reform it for my generation. To save it for this generation, you have to reform it for my generation so it doesn’t go bankrupt when we want to retire. The good news is there are bipartisan solutions to do this. The plan we support originally, the Clinton Commission plan to save Medicare int he late 1990s. It’s a bipartisan plan in congress today. It’s a plan that says, do not change benefits for people 55 and above and for those of us who are younger when we become Medicare eligible we get a choice of guaranteed coverage options. Guaranteed affordability including traditional Medicare. So we get to pick the plan for us when we retire and that means all those providers competing against each other for our business, and we don’t have to beg for the mercy of 15 bureaucrats, whether or not we get our healthcare.
We think the best way to save Medicare is to empower 50 million seniors not 15 unelected bureaucrats to make their decisions on how they get their healthcare. Mitt Romney and I will protect and strengthen Medicare, so that the promises that were made that people organize their retirements around--like my mom-- will be promises that are kept.
First, do you want your children and grandchildren to have the same opportunities for Medicare that you have?
Then, we need to counter the argument of the $716 billion dollar figure. I wrote an article about this yesterday, and essentially it showed that this figure is what Republicans expect it would cost to repeal the Affordable Care Act. I learned from the comments of that article how better to frame it:
Say you were shopping at one store, but found that the item you were going to purchase was on sale for 25% less at another. You wouldn't tell everyone that you slashed your purchase budget by 25% would you? No, because you saved 25% on what you would have spent. That is similar to the $716 billion dollar figure. It is a savings on future spending by eliminating wasteful spending. The Affordable Care Act also provides co-pay free preventative care, and closes the prescription drug donut hole, which the Romney/Ryan plan and current Medicare plan do not provide.
As far as the 15 person board Ryan mentions... excluding the fact that he is trying to subtly invoke the infamous death panels accusations, he is talking about the Independent Payment Advisory Board. This argument needs to be countered with the truth. As explained by the Whitehouse:
Key to these savings is a proposal to strengthen the Independent Payment Advisory Board – IPAB, which was created by the Affordable Care Act. Here’s how IPAB works:Finally, there was a lot of talk about generations in Ryan's speech. Ryan attempts to separate his cuts to Medicare--which as he points out doesn't go towards paying for Obamacare, but instead (as he skips) goes towards paying for a tax cut for the wealthiest Americans--by generation, assuring the audience he is speaking to that their Medicare will not be touched.
- 15 experts including doctors and patient advocates would be nominated by the President and confirmed by the Senate to serve on IPAB.
- IPAB would recommend policies to Congress to help Medicare provide better care at lower costs. This could include ideas on coordinating care, getting rid of waste in the system, incentivizing best practices, and prioritizing primary care.
- IPAB is specifically prohibited by law from recommending any policies that ration care, raise taxes, increase premiums or cost-sharing, restrict benefits or modify who is eligible for Medicare.
- Congress then has the power to accept or reject these recommendations. If Congress rejects the recommendations, and Medicare spending exceeds specific targets, Congress must either enact policies that achieve equivalent savings or let the Secretary of Health and Human Services follow IPAB’s recommendations.
The next section of Ryan's speech moves from the attack on Medicare to the attack on jobs:
One of the ways that we can make sure this promise is kept is to get people back to work. Is to grow this economy. That’s why we are offering solutions for more jobs and higher take-home pay. The Romney/Ryan plan for a stronger middle class is designed to get this economy growing again. Twelve million jobs, grow the economy at 4%. This would create 713,000 jobs right in Florida alone. The key to doing it is to get us back to work. we have lots of energy in America, let’s use this energy in America so we can create jobs and lower our gas prices. We need people who are out of work to be able to go back to school and get the skills they need to get new jobs and new careers so they can get back on the path to prosperity. We also have to grow more things in America, my buddy Adam Putnam, I see him here. He’s your ad commissioner, he knows a lot about growing things. We make things in America, we grow things in America. We have to make more, grow more, sell it overseas...that creates good jobs in America. We also have to stop spending money we just don’t have. We have to cut spending, get this deficit under control so we leave our children and our grandchildren a debt free nation. That affects jobs today. We have to champion small businesses. Small business is the engine of job opportunity of job creation. We need to restart that engine. You know, growing up my dad worked and my mom stayed at home. I’ve got three older siblings, a sister and two brothers. And my mom stayed at home those years. When my dad died, my mom went back to school. She went back to college, got a new skill, her new trade, and then she started a small business. My mom had three or four employees at that small business that she started, we were taking care of my grandma at the time. She was going to school and then she started this small business.This can be countered explaining how many jobs have been created by Obama. Krugman also points out in the New York Times that Romney plans to move back to Bush era economic policies, which in reality only had a job growth rate of 66,000 per month excluding the economic crash at the end.
And mom...mom, I am proud of you for going out, getting another degree. I am proud of you for that small business that you created and mom, YOU DID BUILD THAT! That’s what America is all about. I am so proud of her for that. I am so proud of her for doing that. Right in the middle of her life.
This, this election is the most important election in our lifetimes. No matter what generation you come from. You know there are a few things my dad would always say, that have always really just stuck with me. Number one, he would say, “Son, you are either part of the problem, or part of the solution.” he was usually telling me this when I was part of the problem at the time. The other thing he would say is, “Son, in this country every generation of Americans solves their problems so that their children are better off.” That’s the American legacy. It is our duty to save the American dream for our children and theirs. When we talk about these things, when we look at the fork in the road we’re in...when we look at the enormous choice we have in front of us, when we have such a clear contrast between the leader in Mitt Romney and the failed leadership of President Obama--the choice is very clear. It goes deeper than that though. It really comes down to a question of, what kind of country do we want to have? what kind of people do we want to be?
You know, our founders were so eloquent when they created this country. They said it very clearly. Our rights, as individuals as citizens...our rights, come from nature and God, not from government. Our founders preserved this, founded this, secured this, and our veterans have kept it ever since and we thank those veterans. Here is the commitment that Mitt Romney and I are making to you, our fellow citizens. We’re going to give you the choice. We are not going to duck the tough issues we are not going to keep kicking the can down the road, we will lead. We will not blame other people, we will take responsibility. And we will not try to transform this country into something it was never intended to be. We will not try to replace our founding principles, we will reapply our founding principles.
We are suffering from decades of politicians from both political parties that have made empty promises to voters just to get re-elected, and soon those empty promises will quickly become broken promises with painful consequences for all of us if we don’t act. We need leadership, we need to make sure the government keeps those promises to people who are organizing their retirement around those promises like my mom, Betty. We need to make sure that the promise of this country is not only there for my mom’s generation, but for my children’s generation. We need leadership, Mitt Romney is the man for the moment to provide that leadership. This is a defining moment. This is a generation’s time. And you know what? We can do this. We can turn this thing around. We can get this economy growing. We can get families back on the path of prosperity. We can secure Medicare’s promise for tomorrow. We can do this, and with your help, together, Florida and the rest of America will get this country back on track! Thank you very much everybody! Thank you for coming out today, we love you all. Thank you for your support, we really appreciate it.
The last paragraph I agree with. We are suffering from political parties who have made empty promises. This is why it is important to continue to point out the promises Obama has kept in office, and the things that have been held up by Republicans. Ryan goes further to point out the need to ensure that future generations are taken care of, and this should be an area of emphasis when talking to anyone about the Ryan budget. Ryan's budget ends Medicare for those under 55, and fails to protect all but the wealthiest of Americans. This IS a defining moment of our generation's time, and the only politician that is putting forth a plan that will take care of ALL Americans and not just the wealthy is Barack Obama. To quote Paul Ryan himself, "We want this debate, we need this debate, and we are going to win this debate."
8:31 PM PT: I just wanted to add a link to the speech on Youtube if you would like to watch it all.