House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) couldn't address why vice-presidential nominee Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) attacked a $716 billion Medicare reduction from the Affordable Care Act during his acceptance speech after Ryan included the cuts in his own budget.
In an interview with Fortune magazine published Thursday, Cantor was asked about Ryan proposing his own budget to turn Medicare into a quasi-voucher system, using the same cuts he called a cold "power play" by Democrats during his Republican National Convention speech on Wednesday.
"The assumption was that, um, the, the, ah, again — I probably can't speak to that in an exact way so I better just not," he said.
Cantor also attacked President Barack Obama for the cuts during the Fortune interview, saying he's engaging in "scare tactics." "At the same time, he is the one who is taking massive amounts of cash out of very popular programs like Medicare Advantage and the prescription drug program," Cantor said. "This directly impacts seniors."
The Obama health care law will reduce Medicare spending over 10 years by cutting subsidies to private Medicare Advantage plans and payments to hospitals and other providers -- not to beneficiaries. According to Medicare actuaries, the cuts extend the life of the program's trust fund from 2016 to 2024. Contrary to Cantor's description, the Affordable Care Act actually enhances Medicare prescription drug coverage, closing the infamous "donut hole" for enrollees with coverage.
While Cantor couldn't explain why Ryan included the reduction and subsequently attacked it, Ryan has said that he added the cuts because Obama included them first.
"He put those cuts there," he said while eating a hot dog at a recent campaign stop after he was announced as the nominee. "We would never have done it in the first place."