THE VILLAGES, Fla. — President Barack Obama castigated the Republican presidential ticket Saturday for peddling "trickle-down snake oil" in the form of tax cuts for the rich, and both campaigns jockeyed for advantage over Medicare, a dicey subject for everyone in the game.
Speaking to seniors in Florida, GOP vice presidential hopeful Paul Ryan accused Obama of using Medicare as a "piggybank" for the president's health care law. A champion of changing Medicare, Ryan spoke passionately in defense of the program, introducing his mother to voters to drive home the point that the health program "was there for our family" and "we have to keep that guarantee."
Ryan tried to strike a careful balance on the subject in his speech at a sprawling retirement community. Mitt Romney and his running mate have come under withering criticism from Obama for Ryan's proposals in Congress to overhaul Medicare. Ryan says Medicare will be protected for people in and near retirement, and he wants to see younger generations offered alternatives to the entitlement.
Obama, campaigning in New Hampshire, cast the choice on Election Day as one between two fundamentally different approaches to the government's responsibility to its citizens. His approach of casting Romney's plans as a giveaway to the rich was familiar but seemed to have a particularly sharp bite.
"They've been trying to sell this trickle-down snake oil before," Obama told an audience in Windham, N.H. "It did not work then. It will not work now. It will not reduce the deficit, it will not create jobs. It's the wrong direction for America."
Ryan took the stage in The Villages with his mother, Betty Ryan Douglas, 78, while Romney scheduled a series of fundraisers in Massachusetts. The Wisconsin congressman said he saw Medicare's benefits firsthand as a young man when his grandmother, with Alzheimer's, moved in with his family. "My mom and I were her two primary caregivers," Ryan said before shifting to his mother and the promise of Medicare for her.