It's a big week on the campaign trail, the first week on the trail for Rep/ Paul Ryan and the battle over Medicare he is raging.
The congressman's signature really is his budget. In it is a controversial plan to convert Medicare into a system that will provide subsidies or vouchers. They allow people to either purchase private insurance or stay in the current Medicare plan and it would not affect current seniors. It will start with people who are currently under 55.
Both sides are predicting doom and gloom if the other party takes control.
On "Early Start" this morning, Rep. Phil Gingrey (R-GA) tells John Berman the battle over President Obama's Medicare plan comes down to "Democrats doing a good job of scaring seniors." He also responds to polling on Paul Ryan's VP selection.
Transcript available after the jump.
BERMAN: So, Congressman, what are the differences between the two plans and would you like to see Mitt Romney give a more fulsome embrace of the so-called Ryan plan?
REP. PHIL GINGREY (R), GEORGIA: There may be subtle differences in their plan. It's the same game plan, even though you may have a different center fielder. The straw that stirs this drink obviously is Mitt Romney. He is going to be the next president of the United States. Paul Ryan is going to be the vice president.
And I think they'll get on tweaking around the edges in regard to the plan, but it's essentially a very similar plan, and that is that you face up to the reality of these entitlement items going off a cliff. And that's what the Romney/Ryan plan will do. That's what the House Republican budget has done for last two years.
We know Democrats have no plan and have no budget for the last three and a half years. So, I'm so happy about the choice of Paul Ryan as Mitt Romney's running mate.
BERMAN: I was talking to a couple of Democratic strategists overnight who were not actually affiliated with the Obama campaign and in some cases they are running races where they are positioning their Democrats in opposition to the president.
But they do say that the so-called Ryan plan is like manna from heaven from them. They are running against it hard. They intend to put new ads up, as soon as they possibly can. The Democrats truly see this as a winning issue for them.
Are they wrong?
GINGREY: They are absolutely wrong. This running from reality is not going to get it from the American people. The American people understand the CBO has said it and Medicare trustees have said it, Medicare is insolvent by 2022.
And it is so totally irresponsible to ignore that reality and indeed, in creating this new entitlement program called the Affordable Care Act, unaffordable care act, i.e., Obamacare. They gutted the Medicare program of $720 billion to create a new entitlement program for the young.
When we were marking that up in committee, I had an amend that said, OK, any Medicare savings it goes back into Medicare and the Democrats led by Waxman and Pelosi, they rejected that. They didn't want to save Medicare. They gutted it.
BERMAN: One of things that Paul Ryan has suggested over the years, would be all but eliminating Medicare and replacing it with a voucher system. So, there are a lot of charges going back and forth here now.
GINGREY: But premium support is not voucher. A voucher you hand money to a senior and say, go find your health care. This would be run by the Medicare trustees by CMS, Committee on Medicare and Medicaid Services, the money would stay there. And the premium support would be more for someone who comes into Medicare with preexisting conditions and it would increase as a senior ages.
And last but not least, it is the Ryan-Wyden - Democratic Senator Ron Wyden's plan and strictly voluntarily.
BERMAN: Congressman –
GINGREY: If a senior wants to stay on the program, a fee for service traditional Medicare, they can and will do that. In fact, they will be required essentially to do that if they are over age 55 or already on the Medicare program.
BERMAN: Congressman, there's a great deal of enthusiasm over the weekend. Pictures were terrific from the campaign trail.
So, a lot of people were a little surprised to see polls that came out yesterday which talked about the relative enthusiasm in the voting public for the Paul Ryan pick and I want to read you some of these polls numbers right here. According to "USA Today"/Gallup, only 39 percent rate the Ryan pick as excellent pretty good, 42 percent vote it only fair and 43 percent it's say it's only fair or poor.
And among independents, which is a key voting bloc, 35 percent say it's excellent or pretty good, and 43 percent say it's only fair or poor.
Don't you need these independents and if Paul Ryan is not helping among them, aren't you in trouble?
GINGREY: Well, it would indicate at this point in time the Democrats are doing a pretty good job of continuing to scare seniors. But the only poll that really matters as you know, John, is that poll on November the 6th and we get the final count.
We're going to have a 45th president. We're not going to be a repeat of the 44th failed presidency with he put an additional $5 trillion on the debit side of the ledger and 42 months, 43 months straight of unemployment above 8 percent.
This is a failed president. The American public are not going to accept that. We need a bold plan and we need honesty with the American people. That's what they have not gotten from Barack Obama.
BERMAN: All right. Congressman Gingrey of Georgia, thank you for joining us this morning.