Paul Ryan, in his ongoing evolution from active supporter to newfound critic of the Affordable Care Act’s $716 billion in Medicare savings, now claims he actually opposed the cuts before he embraced them (and then turned against them again later).
“We would never have done it in the first place,” Ryan said on Thursday.
The confusing new wrinkle is the latest example of Ryan’s awkward contortions as he tries to reconcile the Romney campaign’s new promise to restore the $716 billion in cuts with Ryan’s previous decision to include the same exact cuts in two Republican budgets he wrote.
On Thursday, Ryan tried to square the circle with reporters, explaining that he tried to reverse the cuts by voting to repeal the Affordable Care Act, but restored them in his own budgets anyway. His explanation, via Yahoo’s Chris Moody, who sat with Ryan for lunch:
“First of all, those are in the baseline, he put those cuts in. Second of all, we voted to repeal Obamacare repeatedly, including those cuts. I voted that way before the budget, I voted that way after the budget. So when you repeal all of Obamacare what you end up doing is that repeals that as well. In our budget we’ve restored a lot of that. It gets a little wonky but it was already in the baseline. We would never have done it in the first place. We voted to repeal the whole bill. I just don’t think the president’s going to be able to get out of the fact that he took $716 billion from Medicare to pay for Obamacare.”
So the score now stands at: Ryan says he wouldn’t have cut Medicare. Then Obama made those cuts. Then Ryan voted to reverse them. Then he decided to bring them back in the Republican budget. Now he opposes them and thinks they hurt seniors.
This story has been updated.
Benjy Sarlin is a reporter for Talking Points Memo and co-writes the campaign blog, TPM2012. He previously reported for The Daily Beast/Newsweek as their Washington Correspondent and covered local politics for the New York Sun.