Let's start with a multiple choice question: When Mitt Romney introduced someone in 2009 as "my friend and a statesman in his own right," he was speaking of:
a. John McCain
b. Colin Powell
c. John Bolton
d. Glenn Beck
Yep. D. At an unaccredited college in Utah that was founded by acolytes of right-wing conspiracy-theorist crackpot Cleon Skousen. David Corn of MoJo got the video, again. You have to see it to appreciate it. It's pretty hilarious to hear the words "statesman in his own right" followed by the words "Glenn Beck."
Now we proceed to Romney doubling-down on one of his oddest claims, that no one is denied care in this country because of a lack of insurance. A, it is not true, according to this 2009 Harvard study. B, it's a weird, weird thing for an ostensibly cost-conscious conservative to say, because to the extent that uninsured people do get care, it's in emergency rooms (as Romney noted in this interview, with the Columbus Dispatch yesterday), and that's the most expensive care there is, and taxpayers often pick up the tab. And C, as the inimitable @LOLGOP tweeted, "If Romney believes people don't die because they're uninsured, RomneyCare was a colossal waste of time."
And finally let's move to this excellent column by Jonathan Cohn, who explains why Medicaid, not Medicare, should really be so important tonight. Democrats need to make sure people understand that Medicaid is what pays for long-term care for disabled elderly people:
Many of these people are “dual eligibles.” They use Medicare for their regular and acute medical expenses, whether it’s getting a routine checkup or treatment for a heart attack. They rely on Medicaid to pay the portion of the bills Medicare does not cover, like deductibles for hospitals stays. They also rely on Medicaid to pay for long-term care, whether it’s staying in a nursing home or having caregivers at their own homes. That last part is critically important. Staying in a nursing home is very expensive—like $70,000-a-year expensive, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation. Having part- or full-time assistance at home also runs into tens of thousands of dollars a year.
Many elderly Americans can’t pay those bills, at least not for any significant length of time. That’s when they turn to Medicaid. Today, 70 percent of people who live in nursing homes use Medicaid—many of them middle class people who, having burned through their savings, are as dependent upon the program as people who never had the money in the first place.
The Romney-Ryan plan, Cohn notes, would cut Medicaid by $800 billion over 10 years. States might find some savings in some cases, but what's more likely is a big cost shift onto seniors and their families.
Where does the narrative stand now? A few nicks in Romney's new centrist armor, notably the abortion comment yesterday, and he's back to making some weird statements. This slew of polls from this morning shows a tighter race, no shock there, but one that Obama still leads narrowly. Lots of pressure on Biden tonight. The new weekly unemployment claims--a four-year low--should provide the lauching pad for him to begin the arguments I laid out this morning. However, Romney still has the momentum here. It has slowed. But he still has it. Which makes tonight pretty important for the Democrats.