Mitt Romney’s selection of Rep. Paul Ryan as his running mate has attempted to change the election debate from name-calling and diversionary side issues to a substantive debate over serious fiscal issues.

Mr. Ryan is accused of trying to “end Medicare as we know it” with a political ad featuring a Ryan look-alike pushing granny off a cliff. The truth is that Obamacare already ended Medicare as we knew it when $716 billion was taken from future Medicare benefits for seniors in order to help fund the new health care entitlement program for the uninsured. Medicare’s bipartisan trustees are on record as forecasting bankruptcy for Medicare 12 years from now.

The Ryan Medicare reform has its roots in the 1999 Medicare Commission sponsored by the Clinton administration. There are two basic tenets to the plan:

1. No one over 55 is affected in any way, period.

2. When people 55 or under reach Medicare eligibility at age 65, they will have a choice: Participate in the same, existing fee-for-service Medicare system or select the federal government-provided premium support for the purchase of insurance.

The premium support program adjusts so that wealthier participants receive less financial help, while the sick receive more help if their conditions worsen, and lower income seniors receive additional financial assistance.

Overall, the Ryan program is designed to put Medicare on a sustainable, solvent financial path so the program will be there when future generations, including those now paying into the system, reach retirement age.

David T. Roberts

East Moline