Last night, President Clinton did a masterful job of calling out Mitt Romney's and Paul Ryan's lies on Medicare and welfare reform. But it's what wonk-President Clinton said on Medicaid that needs to be included in every Democrats' speech in every venue. Here he is:
Now, folks, this is serious, because it gets worse. And you won't be laughing when I finish telling you this. They also want to block grant Medicaid and cut it by a third over the coming 10 years. Of course, that's going to really hurt a lot of poor kids.This is serious, and for all the words some of us bloggers have spilled trying to tell the story of how the Ryan and Romney cuts will hurt, Clinton just cut through to the core of it. In the immediate term, there is much more at stake with the proposed Medicaid cuts than with Medicare, and the Republican cuts would be deep and particularly painful because of the populations they would target.
But that's not all. A lot of folks don't know it, but nearly two-thirds of Medicaid is spent on nursing home care for Medicare seniors who are eligible for Medicaid.
It's going to end Medicare [sic, Medicaid] as we know it. And a lot of that money is also spent to help people with disabilities, including a lot of middle-class families whose kids have Down's syndrome or autism or other severe conditions.
And, honestly, just think about it. If that happens, I don't know what those families are going to do. So I know what I'm going to do: I'm going to do everything I can to see that it doesn't happen. We can't let it happen. We can't.
Clinton's comments are, first of all, a direct rebuttal of the Romney/Ryan claim that their proposals won't hurt current seniors. As Clinton says, those Medicare seniors in nursing homes also rely on Medicaid. They'll be hurt, immediately. As will millions of families with disabled children, and disabled adults as well.
And here's where Clinton is so, so effective. In this passage, Clinton uses his arithmetic to reinforce his values, Democratic values. The math is the Ryan/Romney intention to cut Medicaid by a third, cuts that would hurt the most vulnerable among us. Those are the people that Clinton's values, Democrats' values insist we protect.
In highlighting Medicaid, Bill Clinton laid out the contrast between these two policy visions. This is one policy area that most shows the stark differences between Romney/Ryan and President Obama and their conflicting visions for the role of government in America.