Jane Pauley: A last question, I think it was fairly similar to a last question the president took as well. From Broaddus, Texas, Lester asks, “Social Security and Medicare are too important for you to keep fighting in Washington. What specific steps would you take to forge bipartisan compromise?”
Congressman Ryan: It's the best question I could have been asked this entire time. First, you might have heard the word “voucher” earlier today, right? Let me explain, that's a poll-tested word basically designed to scare today's seniors. Here is what a voucher is: A voucher is you go to your mailbox and you get a check and you go buy something and you are on your own. Nobody is proposing that. What we’re proposing is an idea that I proposed with a Democrat in the Senate last year. What we’re proposing is an idea that came out of Bill Clinton's 1999 commission to save Medicare. What we’re proposing is an idea that has traditionally been supported by Democrats and Republicans in the past.
The reason I'm so familiar with this idea is because it works like the plan I have as a congressman, as a member of the federal employee workforce. You get a list of guaranteed coverage options. You can't be denied. You pick your plan and Medicare subsidizes your premiums based on who you are. If you are wealthy, you don't get as much of a subsidy. If you’re a middle-income person, you get the same kind of subsidy you get from Medicare today. And you’re poor, or sick, you get total coverage, total out-of-pocket coverage. Doing it this way for my generation saves it, with no changes for people in or near retirement.
Now, the shame of this idea is, this idea has been supported by Democrats and Republicans since the late ‘90s. Because the president and partisan blockades in the Senate will not even act on it, that's why it didn't pass. These ideas on Social Security I talked about, they also are rooted in bipartisan ideas.
Here’s what is Mitt Romney and I are trying to do, here’s what I’ve done on this issue in Congress, what he has done when he was governor, a Republican of a Democratic state. Don't demean the opposite side. Don't demagogue Democrats. Invite them into a coalition to work with us, to talk, and then solve these problems. You see you can get to common ground on these problems, if you treat people with respect, without compromising your principles. And the very existence of this plan to save and strengthen Medicare, a plan that has been supported by Democrats and Republicans alike, is the existence of the fact that we can get this done. This is precisely what we want to do.
Our plan is to win this election, be magnanimous, and work with Democrats who want to work with us to save this critical program. That's what we are trying to achieve. It's too important to take this for granted, to play politics. These are the two most important programs the government has created. Too many Americans depend on it for their health and retirement security. And the more we delay, the more we do nothing, the deeper the hole we dig. And the sooner we act, the sooner we can fix it, so that my generation can actually count on it and that your generation will actually get it without any changes. If you wait, if you delay, then it gets uglier. The solutions are that much harsher. That's the point we are trying to make. Thanks, Jane.
Jane Pauley: Congressman Ryan, we thank you for coming and joining us in New Orleans today.
Congressman Ryan: Thank you, my pleasure.