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ROBERTS: For reaction now from Democrats on the Romney/Ryan ticket, we are joined by Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz. She's chairman of the Democratic National Committee.
REP. DEBBIE WASSERMAN SCHULTZ, D-FLA., DNC CHAIR: Thank you, John.
ROBERTS: You came down from New Hampshire this morning.
WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: Yes.
ROBERTS: We appreciate the effort.
WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: (INAUDIBLE)
ROBERTS: You were working yesterday as well, in response to tall of this. You came out with strong criticism of Congressman Ryan, saying he has been called a serious person. But he, like Romney, has seriously flawed ideas for our economy that have only failed us in the past.
What are you talking about?
WASSERMAN-SCHULTZ: Well, as a member of the Budget Committee myself, I've really had front row seat to witness the architect of the Romney-Ryan budget, Paul Ryan's embrace extremism, suggest that we should end Medicare as we know it, shred the safety net for seniors in health care that we had in place for more than 50 years, turn Medicare into a block grants and send it to the states, which would really jeopardize seniors in nursing homes, potentially take 10 million students off of Pell Grants, cut health care, cut education. Paul Ryan has embraced an extremist proposal and goes not only too far, but according to every independent economist asked, cut so much that it would risk stalling -- or slowing or even stalling our recovery, which we know is already fragile.
ROBERTS: Let's focus in on Medicare for a second, because you said end Medicare as we know it.
WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: Right.
ROBERTS: We know that if Medicare goes along the path that it's on now, it's going to end itself. You heard John McCain said, the trustees report says that will be in 12 years, earlier reports of nine years, now, it's been extended up to 12.
But there need to be changes made and the changes that Congressman Ryan in conjunction with Paul Wyden -- Ron Wyden, I'm sorry, have been making, mirror very much the provisions in the Affordable Care Act for lower income people.
So, how can you embrace one thing for lower income and say we can't do the same for seniors?
WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: Well, first of all, let's make sure everyone knows that Ron Wyden, Senator Wyden voted against the Ryan budget when it came up for a vote in the Senate. So, even Ron Wyden agrees that Paul Ryan's approach is too extreme, that turning the Medicare in a voucher program would not be the right way to go.
The Affordable Care Act, actually, the reason that we have 12 years now, rather than nine, is because the Affordable Care Act that added eight years of solvency to the Medicare program, and we know that we need some (INAUDIBLE) that we can continue to shore up Medicare so that my generation and Paul Ryan's generation actually have an opportunity that safety net in place.
What we need to do and that Mitt Romney has fully embraced by choosing Paul Ryan as his running mate is to shred that safety net, tell seniors that, well, you no longer have a guarantee for health care. We're going to give you a voucher and then we're going to make you pay about $6,300 more in premiums in order to be able to pay for that health care and essentially leave you with a gap between what the voucher provides and what the insurance company that you ultimately get coverage from charges you. That's the wrong way to go.
ROBERTS: A couple of important points on what you just said. It was a voucher program in its first incarnation in 2011. But the new incarnation of the Ryan budget plan would allow the senior systems to stay in the Medicare system. And it's true that the Congressional Budget Office scored his 2011 budget as potentially costing senior citizens $6,300.
But there's been no such scoring of the new budget. So, you're actually giving us an old figure here.
WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: No, that's still a proposal the Paul Ryan put on the table, that we actually -- that we actually voted on, that he has championed. And Mitt Romney has now chosen Paul Ryan who was the architect of that plan as his running mate, someone who -- Mitt Romney already embraced the Ryan budget, which we know is extreme. And, you know, as someone who represents thousands of seniors in south Florida, I can tell you that what would happen in either proposal in Ryan two or Ryan one, is that insurance companies would cherry pick the healthy people, cherry pick the best people to insure and as a result the folks who remained in Medicare would see their costs go up.
So, either way, whether it's Ryan one or son of Ryan, you're still going to leave seniors in a very dire situation as opposed to traditional Medicare, which is a safety net through which we have said, for more than 50 years, we're not going to let seniors fall through. Barack Obama says unacceptable. Mitt Romney has fully embraced it.
ROBERTS: You have said in the past that people could be excluded for preexisting conditions under the Ryan budget, do you still hold to that?
WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: The people under the Ryan budget --
ROBERTS: People who have preexisting condition.
WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: He repeals the Affordable Care Act, which means that, yes, we would return to the days when insurance companies could deny people or drop in coverage.
ROBERTS: But not senior citizens, because you said that about senior citizens, because the Ryan plan specifically says that senior citizens with preexisting conditions could not be excluded from Medicare.
WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: But Paul Ryan's plan, whether it's the first one, or the second does, if it shreds the safety net with seniors, it turns Medicare into a voucher program. It increases cost --
ROBERTS: But only for those who want to choose to go with privatized system.
WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: Well, we made a decision more than 50 years ago, John, that we were going to make sure that families were no longer going to be medically bankrupt trying to care for seniors as they were aging and their health was declining, because that's what was happening back before Medicare passed.
Paul Ryan and Mitt Romney would allow the seniors to fall right through that floor because they would fall the rag out from under seniors, give them a voucher, tell them they are essentially on their own, drive up their health care costs and then cost their families even more monies because someone is going to have to make sure that those seniors don get sick and have no one to care for them and no way to pay for it. ROBERTS: When it come tots president's health care plan, the Affordable Care Act, there have been potential problems that have been pointed out with that. The Congressional Budget Office says it would increase taxes by $500 billion over the course of 10 years and that it would by slowing the growth of Medicare --
WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: Increase taxes of $500 billion?
ROBERTS: Five hundred billions dollars, there will be a $500 billion tax increase. This is from the CBO because of the Affordable Care Act. It would also slow the growth of Medicare, I want to be very clear about that. Not cut Medicare, slow the growth, by $500 billion over the same period.
CMS actuaries --
WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: Not cut benefits, which the Republicans --
ROBERTS: That's right. Very clear, slow the growth of Medicare.
WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: That's also, by the way, Paul Ryan's plan that Mitt Romney has embraced repeals the Affordable Care Act, they do not repeal their budget, the same $500 billion in cuts.
ROBERTS: Let me just give --
WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: They were not cuts in benefits.
ROBERTS: Let me if I could come after the point I was making. An actuary's report from CMS, which administers Medicare, found that the slowing of the growth of Medicare under the Affordable Care Act would have an impact such that by 2019 -- put up her on the screen -- 15 percent of the hospitals, skilled nursing facilities, home health agencies, would have to with draw from providing services to Medicare beneficiaries, merge with other provider groups or shifts substantial portions of Medicare cost to their non-Medicare, non-Medicaid payers.
So, there are problems with this one as well in terms of delivering service?
WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: The difference between the Romney and Ryan approach and Republican extremist in the Tea Party who have proposed 31 different times in the House of Representative to just repeal the Affordable Care Act is that they want to make sure to go back to the days when insurance companies can deny coverage or drop you for a preexisting condition. They want seniors to go back to the time when the donut hole was thousands of dollars gap in coverage for their prescription drugs.
John, I -- thanks to Barack Obama -- had stood behind the last senior online in my district in a drug store who when five or six prescriptions come to the counter, they have leave two or three of them behind because they can't afford to pick them all home because of the donut hole.
The Affordable Care Act closes that donut hole, makes sure seniors can afford their prescription drugs, and make sure that seniors have access to preventative, wellness visits, so they can stay healthy instead of waiting before they are sick before they go to the doctor. Those are the seniors that I represent. We're going to keep them healthy.
Paul Ryan and Mitt Romney would lead them to have massive gaps in coverage and drive their health care costs up, shred the safety net and let them fall through that floor. It's unacceptable.
ROBERTS: Let me switch gears if I could. You probably saw me talking to John McCain a couple of minutes ago. We air a little bit of that Priorities USA ad. Should the Democrats be releasing an ad that accuses a presidential candidate of being responsible -- through inference -- of being responsible for a woman's death?
WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: First of all, that's a Priorities USA.
ROBERTS: I understand.
WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: That's not a Democratic ad. You can say Priorities USA super PAC ad which we have nothing to do with it.
ROBERTS: Correct. You deny that they are Democrats?
WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: I have no idea of the political affiliation of folks who are associated with that super PAC.
ROBERTS: Bill Burton, who used to work in the White House, worked in Obama campaign in 2008?
WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: That is a super PAC that is not affiliated with our campaign or with the party. However --
ROBERTS: What do you think of the ad?
WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: What I think of the ad is that there's no question that the ad raises facts such as that Mitt Romney when he was CEO of Bain Capital bankrupted companies, laid off workers, cut their benefits and made millions of dollars in profits. That ad points out that there are consequences to making decisions like that that impacted people's live in a significant way.
ROBERTS: But this idea that the time line of the ad is such that the direct inference is that because this man lost his health insurance, his wife died of cancer does not appear to be the case. She had her own insurance with her own employment, lost that insurance. It was six years later.
WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: It's really interesting that there's no indignation, and the hypocrisy that -- that exists, where -- where is the indignation on the other side that super PACs affiliated with -- with Mitt Romney's campaign or in support of Mitt Romney's campaign have actually run ads...
ROBERTS: I don't think they've ever referred to somebody who's died.
WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: They've -- they've inferred that Barack Obama isn't even American. They've questioned whether his birth certificate is legitimate. There are so many questions that question Barack Obama's patriotism and whether he's even an American. Where is the same indignation?
Is Fox condemning the super PAC ads in support of Mitt Romney in the same way that there has been such, you know, indignation over this ad?
The bottom line is Mitt Romney, as CEO of Bain Capital, profited from bankrupting companies like GST Steel, cutting their benefits, firing workers, and made money anyway. And there are consequences. That has an impact on people's lives. And the person in that ad wanted to talk about what he thought the impact on his family's life was.
ROBERTS: You mentioned indignation. I wanted to get your sense of something here. My colleague George Stephanopoulos, last week, talked to you about Harry Reid's accusations that Mitt Romney did not pay taxes for 10 years came from an anonymous source. He went so far as to talk about it on the floor of the Senate.
Back in April, you were accused of favoritism by an anonymous source, to which you said -- let me put it up here on the screen -- quote, "I don't know what they're talking about ... those famous anonymous sources that never have the nerve to actually say what they're saying ... make accusations on the record."
There was indignation there. Where's the indignation now about Senator Reid quoting anonymous sources?
WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: I'm actually really glad you brought this topic up. Because it's another opportunity to talk about the secrecy, the penchant for secrecy that Mitt Romney has...
ROBERTS: But could you speak to that?
WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: This issue that Harry Reid has raised has -- was not raised by Harry Reid. There are countless journalists; there are countless voters and leaders who have insisted that Mitt Romney should release more than one year of tax returns. He has not done that.
ROBERTS: I understand, but where -- where is the indignation about anonymous sources that you had back in April regarding this personal concern?
WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: I don't know who Harry Reid's sources are. And -- and that -- you should ask him...
ROBERTS: But should he be quoting anonymous sources...
WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: That is...
ROBERTS: ... particularly on the floor of the Senate?
WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: Harry Reid has his own sources. The bottom line is I'd like to know how many years of tax returns did Mitt Romney review and ask Paul Ryan to give him when he was vetting him for vice president? And is he going to require the release of those tax returns?
Barack Obama and Joe Biden have released 12 years of tax returns? Mitt Romney has released one and a partial view of a second one. His own father...
ROBERTS: John McCain released two.
WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: His own father -- no, John McCain released more than -- released about 12 years of tax returns.
ROBERTS: John Kerry didn't release his wife's tax returns. I mean, you can make a lot of arguments what is appropriate in terms of...
WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: Spouses are not running for president.
The major -- Mitt Romney is the first major party candidate for president of the United States in modern times not to release at least 12 years of tax returns. It's unacceptable. And there's a reason. We've seen a glimpse of why he hasn't released them. It's because he's got investments in a Swiss bank account, in the Cayman Islands, in a Bermuda Corporation.
Why does an American businessman need a Swiss bank account or investments in known tax havens if not to be hiding something? Mitt Romney needs to come clean and, for that matter, now so does Paul Ryan. Mitt Romney needs to show American voters at least the same number of tax returns that he asked Paul Ryan to show him when he was vetting him for vice president.
ROBERTS: Debbie Wasserman Schultz, it's always good to sit down and talk about the issues with you.
WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: Thank you.
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