Karl Rove's Medicare “Cut” Confusion

In his Wall Street Journal column this morning, Karl Rove argues that Congressman Paul Ryan's selection as Mitt Romney's running mate gives Republicans the advantage on Medicare as a political issue -- an advantage that has historically belonged to Democrats. To bolster his case, Rove twists himself into logical knots to argue that President Obama, and not Paul Ryan, wants to “cut” Medicare despite having (in Rove's own retelling) almost identical policies.

According to Rove's math, the GOP isn't “cutting” Medicare spending, because they still project growth in spending over the next decade:

For one thing, the GOP doesn't cut Medicare spending. This fiscal year, Medicare outlays will total $503 billion. Even under the House GOP budget--considered the most parsimonious plan out there--Medicare spending would be $855 billion annually 10 years from now. That just 3% less than what President Obama proposes, hardly enough to justify Vice President Joe Biden's claim that Republicans are “gutting Medicare.”

OK, so you can't say Ryan wants to “cut” Medicare because his budget calls for increased spending that lags just slightly behind Obama's. But in the very next paragraph -- the very next paragraph -- Rove says that Obama “cuts” Medicare:

Mr. Romney also has advantages in the contest with Mr. Obama. The president's legislation cuts Medicare by $716 billion to pay for ObamaCare. But because so many baby boomers are turning 65, Medicare is going broke. (Thanks in part to ObamaCare cuts, Medicare's hospital trust fund will be insolvent by 2024, according to the Social Security and Medicare Boards of Trustees.)

Keep in mind that Ryan's budget -- the budget Rove says doesn't “cut” Medicare -- envisions those same $716 billion in savings from Medicare.

So Rove is arguing that the Ryan budget doesn't “cut” Medicare because he increases spending and extracts $716 billion in savings, while Obama does “cut” Medicare because he increases spending and extracts $716 billion in savings.

That's fairly ridiculous -- about as ridiculous as having the head of a pro-GOP Super PAC write political columns and not disclosing his financial interest in the outcome of the election.