During the first of the three 2012 presidential debates, both candidates talked a great deal about Medicare. However, during round two of the Romney vs Obama debates, held at Hofstra University in Hempstead, N.Y., that wasn’t the case at all.
Healthcare clearly took a back seat to other issues during the town hall-style presidential debate on Oct. 16. While the candidates heatedly discussed such issues as energy, tax, immigration, and Libya, not a word was spoken about healthcare until 30 minutes into the debate—and that was in response to a question about equal pay for women. Moreover, that response—by the President—addressed contraceptive coverage for women, which many people don’t view as a healthcare issue at all.
Not a single questioner from the audience asked either candidate about healthcare, suggesting either that the election is to be won or lost on other issues, or that both candidates’ positions on healthcare were already clear enough to the audience of supposedly undecided voters.
During the previous debate on Oct. 3, the candidates reportedly mentioned Medicare a total of 42 times and the 2010 healthcare law (aka Obamacare) 20 times. On Oct. 16, however, such references were few and far between. With plenty of attention having been given to healthcare during the first debate, perhaps both candidates simply felt they’d already covered the issue adequately.
During that earlier debate, both candidates drove home positions that were already clear to most observers following healthcare issues. When Medicare was raised as a topic in the first debate, Gov. Romney took up the position already laid out by his running mate, Paul Ryan. Ryan had made the Romney-Ryan ticket’s position clear by voicing disapproval of “Obamacare” during his address to the Republican National Convention earlier this year in Tampa, Fla. At the RNC, Ryan had characterized the President’s approach as “a long, divisive, all-or-nothing attempt to put the federal government in charge of healthcare.”
Ryan’s primary criticism of Pres. Obama’s policy regarding Medicare concerned the trimming of $716 billion from Medicare funding.
According to Ryan, the trimming was a desperate attempt to raise funds to implement Obamacare reforms. “The planners in Washington didn’t have enough money. They needed more,” Ryan said. “They needed hundreds of billions more, so they just took it all away from Medicare. $716 billion funneled out of Medicare by Pres. Obama. An obligation we have to our parents and grandparents is being sacrificed all to pay for a new entitlement we didn’t even ask for.”