So I was watching Fox News Sunday. They had Romney advisor Ed Gillespie on. Gillespie is one of the better communicators the Republicans have. When Chris Wallace asked Gillespie about Ryan’s Medicare reform plan and how the CBO estimated that this would cost the average senior $6,400, Gillespie fumbled by trying to explain the change wouldn’t apply to current seniors or those 55 and older, that seniors would benefit from competition, etc. Gillespie could have used the opportunity to explain that, under the 2012 Ryan plan (which is also the Romney plan more or less), there would be competitive bidding for a defined benefit, that the premium support would cover the defined benefit (that wasn’t necessarily true in Ryan’s 2011 budget), that older and sicker seniors would get higher premium support payments and that traditional Medicare FFS would remain an option for seniors.
This isn’t to pick on Gillespie. Most Republicans (and the center-right in general) have not been talking about specific Medicare reforms for very long, and most are not very good at it yet. Tell Gillespie to go out there and defend cuts to marginal income tax rates or cuts to the capital gains tax and he will do much better. He has had a lot more practice at that sort of thing. The average (or even above average) Romney campaign flak is not going to do a good job of explaining Romney’s Medicare proposal. That is why the Romney campaign should put Ryan in the position of explaining (at something like length) how the Ryan-Wyden-style premium support plan that is at the heart of both Ryan’s 2012 budget and Romney’s Medicare reform plan would work. This would give viewers a better, more sympathetic, and more complete understanding of Romney’s Medicare plan than they will get from anyone else. And as more people on the center-right see Ryan’s talk about Medicare, they will pick up Ryan’s talking points and learn to speak more effectively. There is a lot to be gained from putting Ryan in two minute ads to explain his current premium support plan.