Coming up Wednesday

Wildfires burn through Colorado causing thousands to evacuate, and protests in Turkey are in 13th day. Tune in at 7am ET.
August 14th, 2012
08:47 AM ET

Romney advisor John Sununu: Obama stole money from Medicare to fund 'Obamacare'

Following his selection as Mitt Romney's running mate, Paul Ryan's controversial entitlement reform plan has taken center stage. Democrats have attacked that proposal, saying Ryan – and now by extension, Romney – would dismantle Medicare.

On Starting Point this morning, senior Romney campaign advisor John Sununu responds to this claim, asserting that Romney "supports the concepts" that are in the Ryan plan but has his own plan for reforming Medicare.

Sununu also debates the veracity of Romney's claim that the president cut $700 billion from Medicare to pay for the Affordable Care Act, insisting that this is the big difference between Romney and Ryan's plans.


O'BRIEN: Let's start with Chris Christie being chosen as the key note speaker. What do you think?

SUNUNU: Let me start first of all with the clip you showed of the president. You're aiding and abetting his dishonesty. Paul Ryan and the Republicans did pass a bill to take care of the drought problem, but it's the democratic Senate that hasn't passed it. So when you show that clip and you show the president lying through his teeth, then you are aiding and abetting a distortion.

O'BRIEN: The original bill was not passed. Since you've taken us off track from my question.

SUNUNU: It was passed. The drought Bill was passed.

O'BRIEN: They will tell you they did not want to pass a Bill that was a short-term answer because what they had on the table earlier was a longer term provision, as you know, sir. Good morning, but let's talk about Chris Christie for a minute. How do you feel about that?

SUNUNU: Well, I think he's going to do great job of pointing out the disaster the economy is in, the 8.3 percent unemployment, the extremely low growth rate, the fact that American families have lost about $4300 each in the asset value over the last four years. That gasoline has doubled, and that the Ryan adds to the Romney ticket and we have two guys that understand what has to be done to save America. And they have the back bone and the will to do it and contrast that with the complete lack of courage in the Obama/Biden team. But other than that, it probably won't be very tough.

O'BRIEN: He has said that he's going to focus more on a why to elect Mitt Romney rather than talking about president Obama. I think he's on his fourth draft of that speech. Let's talk about what everybody is talking about now, which is the Ryan budget and the Ryan Medicare plan. You told Wolf yesterday, I believe, listen, Ryan is number two on the ticket. It's really all about the Romney plan.

SUNUNU: It is. The nominee is Mitt Romney. Paul Ryan joins Mitt Romney. The budget plan, the approach on Medicare and all of that is going to be the Romney plan. What he has is a man as his number two who understands the details of budgets who has demonstrated a willingness to take on tough issues and who knows how to communicate with the public -

O'BRIEN: Isn't the Ryan plan the Romney plan -

SUNUNU: No, it isn't.

O'BRIEN: Let me read you a quote.

SUNUNU: It isn't. You keep wanting to say it and I'm telling you, it's not.

O'BRIEN: Then let me read you a quote from Mitt Romney. This is from Ryan Lizza's article. On March 20th in Chicago, "I'm very supportive of the Ryan budget plan. He said, I think it would be marvelous if the Senate were to pick up Paul Ryan's budget and adopt it and pass it along to the president." That sounds like a lot of support. Am I wrong?

SUNUNU: It's support for the concepts that are in the Ryan plan. But Mitt Romney for six months has had on the table his package, his plan and his approach for dealing with Medicare. If all you want to do is keep repeating the garbage that comes out of the White House, then you've got a problem. The American public is going to see that the plan that is being put forward is the plan Mitt Romney has put forward.

O'BRIEN: Let's read then what comes out of, which I have right here. Key elements of mitt's plan, nothing changes for current seniors, Medicaid is reformed as a premium support system, repackaged as a fixed amount benefit they can use to purchase an insurance plan. All insurance plans must offer what Medicare provides today. This is from It sounds awfully like the Paul Ryan Medicare plan. SUNUNU: But it's very different. For example, when Obama gutted Medicare by taking $717 billion out of it, the Romney plan does not do that. The Ryan plan mimicked part of the Obama package there. The Romney plan does not. That's a big difference.

O'BRIEN: But you know, and I understand that this is a Republican talking point because I've heard it repeated over and over again. And these numbers have been debunked as you know by congressional -

SUNUNU: No, they haven't.

O'BRIEN: Yes they have.

SUNUNU: I have the Congressional Budget Office right here dated July 24th from Doug Elmandorf. Read page 13 and 14 -

O'BRIEN: I can tell you what it says. It cuts a reduction in the expected rate of growth, which you know, not cutting budgets to the elderly, benefits will be improved, the focus is on hospitals and focus is on health insurance.

SUNUNU: He gutted the program by $711 million.

O'BRIEN: The expected rate of growth is being cut.

SUNUNU: It reduces services to Medicare beneficiaries currently on the package. What the difference is, is that Romney says no impact to anybody 55 or over. The - it is clear in here that the reduction in services starts on January 1st, 2013. And Obama stole that money to put it in the -

O'BRIEN: The hospitals agreed to that and drug providers agreed to that because their theory is they will make up by the number of people that come into the system. It doesn't reduce or cut the benefits. The older people who -

SUNUNU: It does -


SUNUNU: Soledad, stop this. All you're doing is mimicking the stuff that comes out of the White House and gets repeated on the Democratic blog boards out there. If you're going to mouth what comes out of the White House.

O'BRIEN: I'm telling you what tells you. I'm telling what the CBO and CNN's independent analysis does.

SUNUNU: I have the CBO report right here.

O'BRIEN: And I'm telling you what it says. I've read it several times.

SUNUNU: Put a Obama bumper sticker on your forehead when you do this. O'BRIEN: You know, let me tell you something, there is independent analysis that details what this is about.

SUNUNU: No, there isn't.

O'BRIEN: Yes, there is.


O'BRIEN: Sir, let me finish. There's independent analysis, fact, the CBO and CNN has already done its own independent analysis, and name calling to me and somehow acting as if by repeating a number of $716 billion that you can make that stick when that figure is being stolen from Medicare, that's not true. You can't just repeat it and make it true, sir.

SUNUNU: Reduction in services and reduction -

O'BRIEN: A reduction in the expected rate of growth, a reduction in the expected rate of growth.

SUNUNU: And reduction in services and reduction in support for Medicare advantage. That is taking money from the program.

O'BRIEN: Which by the way, Paul Ryan, right, has in his budget, which by the way -

SUNUNU: Mitt Romney does not.

O'BRIEN: Which Romney has said in the quote I just read to you, he thinks it's brilliant.

SUNUNU: But he likes the Ryan plan for its guts, but he has his own plan out there, which is carefully crafted to protect the seniors from 55 and up and does not take the $700 billion that Obama took.

O'BRIEN: John Sununu, always nice having you, pleasure.

Filed under: 2012 Race • Budget • Medicaid
soundoff (54 Responses)
  1. TJ

    My God, what a worthless excuse for a journalist. Pathetic. The bumper sticker across the forehead was spot on.

    October 11, 2012 at 1:32 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  2. Lost

    WHY does Ryan's plan in any way effect this campaign? He's not running for office?

    August 16, 2012 at 9:07 am | Report abuse | Reply
  3. Lost

    The shit has really hit the fan, with a steady stream of vomit included. The mudslinging in this presidential race is fiercely over the top. Mediare funds theft, and now OBL assasination leaks? What next? People stay strong and focused. Those who are filled with hate can be infectiously convincing to the weak mind.

    August 16, 2012 at 9:04 am | Report abuse | Reply
  4. LSTM1

    In regards to Soledad's reference to the fact that Medicare cuts can be used to both sustain Medicare and fund a third of Obamacare, here is what the Congressional Budget Office said:

    "CBO has been asked for additional information about the projected effects of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), the pending health care reform legislation, on the federal budget and on the balance in the Hospital Insurance (HI) trust fund, from which Medicare Part A benefits are paid. Specifically, CBO has been asked whether the reductions in projected Part A outlays and increases in projected HI revenues under the legislation can provide additional resources to pay future Medicare benefits while simultaneously providing resources to pay for new programs outside of Medicare. Our answer is basically no."

    Soledad indicated that Obamacare savings/cuts will extend the life of Medicare by 8 years. The CBO says you can't do such double counting.

    An analysis by Forbes magazine came to the same conclusion. If you use the cuts/savings to fund Obamacare then Medicare will go broke in 2016.

    With all due respect, shouldn't these inaccuracies be addressed?

    August 16, 2012 at 1:38 am | Report abuse | Reply
  5. RLS

    Soledad, you are probably reading from yet another Left Wing Blog. Just like you did when debating Barbara Comstock. CNN, harding hitting journalism, NOT!

    August 16, 2012 at 1:15 am | Report abuse | Reply
  6. Bravorio

    Really CNN?? you say something critical of your station and Obummer and you wont post it??? You just leave it in limbo saying " Your comment is awaiting moderation". No wonder your the laughing stock now.

    August 16, 2012 at 12:03 am | Report abuse | Reply
    • John

      I love it when a poster refers to the POTUS as Obummer or NoBama. It immediately forewarns you that you are going to be dealing with a conservative with the intellectual erudition of a twelve year old. As a by side, did anyone notice how John Sununu appears to bear no physical similarities to John Galt?

      August 17, 2012 at 8:37 am | Report abuse | Reply
  7. Bravorio

    Wow really Libs??? I guess you didn't see the video of Obummer saying he would veto any attempt to stop the $716 billion cuts from being taken out of Medicare. He called them cuts himself. Soledad needs to quite reading Obummers talking points and do a little research.

    August 15, 2012 at 11:59 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  8. SusanJ

    Good job Soledad! Keep asking the questions and do not let these guys get away with the spin. It's about time someone talked back and did not let Sununu get away with just repeating talking points. And to those who think Soledad is partisan, consider that the CNN, CBO info is just not what you want to hear.

    August 15, 2012 at 10:56 am | Report abuse | Reply
    • Bravorio

      Yeah Soledad good job getting caught reading Obummers talking points. Too bad you don't know what your talking about.

      August 16, 2012 at 12:04 am | Report abuse | Reply
  9. tonsquad

    Right now CNN is holding on by a thread.

    August 15, 2012 at 10:06 am | Report abuse | Reply
  10. Bryan

    It's Romney's surrogate vs. Obama's surrogate.

    August 15, 2012 at 1:23 am | Report abuse | Reply
    • jron

      Read the reports, Romney can not back off Ryan's proposal. His data and medicaid plan has been well documented. Now, Romney wants to distance himself from that plan but at the same time please Ryan's conservative base. Sorry, can not have it both ways.

      August 15, 2012 at 11:37 am | Report abuse | Reply
  11. J. Gilroy

    Soledad, you rock! Well done. Smart, informed, level-headed discourse. You didn't get sucked into Sununu's game. Hell, I didn't even know that old fool was still alive, but you really put him in his place.

    August 15, 2012 at 12:34 am | Report abuse | Reply
  12. Eric

    Nothing like calling someone on their BS with facts to make them "lose it".

    August 14, 2012 at 9:53 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  13. Jay

    If John Sununu would answer her questions instead of giving talking points, she wouldn't seem so liberal. And don't worry, Soleidad does the same to any Liberal that doesn't answer the questions she ask.

    August 14, 2012 at 8:32 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  14. aquaviva

    CNN and Soledad are so pathetic.

    Folks, note there are 27 current comments here........ZERO anywhere else on other stories.

    Now, I realize they have VERY FEW viewers, and they are going into the ratings toilet, but look how they handle reader commentary.

    They "welcome a lively and courteous discussion" but then screen out anything critical.

    CNN screens critical comments.

    They are in LAST PLACE in ratings and play as did Pravda with criticism.

    Can you imagine the anxiety going on behind CNN/Soledad's closed office doors?


    August 14, 2012 at 6:54 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  15. FKR

    Funny how RomneyRyan's $700 billion are better than Obama's $700 billion. Sununu just twisted himself into a pretzel trying to explain the difference. Not easy for a man of his stature...

    Thank you, Soledad, for staying classy while dealing with these rude SOBs who, when faced with facts (i.e. being exposed as the liars they are) can do nothing but insult, shout, and repeat the same garbage over again. It's nice to see real journalism, as it is still practiced in most democratic countries, here in the US.

    August 14, 2012 at 6:53 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  16. RichS

    I've had enough - CNN gets turned off between 7 and 9am. Do you really call this "journalism?!".

    August 14, 2012 at 5:53 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  17. Jas Branscom

    This woman is so over the top liberal. My gosh CNN, can you try to be a little more even handed with your producers, writers, & television personalities? Not everyone is this far left. Most of us are somewhere in the middle.

    August 14, 2012 at 3:17 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • Mark Newsom

      Yep, if you were to do a bell curve on where folks are, most would be in the middle.

      August 14, 2012 at 4:54 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • Irenevm

      Goodvfor you Soledad. About time somebody called these guys out when they lie. All too often these interviews are little more than "Farr press"! Keep up the good work.

      August 14, 2012 at 7:30 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  18. Dan

    Shame on you Soledad for your continued attempts to appear apartisan. Why not simply tell the audience who you are...why cover it up? A bigger shame to CNN for allowing this phoniness.

    August 14, 2012 at 2:43 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • Mark Newsom

      CNN does not try very hard to be objective. Once in a while you see a slight glimmer of objective journalism but it usually doesn't last too long. Erin Burnett seems to hit hard at both sides. She calls it bull if its bull regardless of the source.

      August 14, 2012 at 5:25 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  19. drewsco

    John Sununu is an idiot. He thinks if he repeats the same up-proven lies repeatedly, then somehow they'll be considered true.

    August 14, 2012 at 2:35 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • Mark Newsom

      The Republicans and Democrats are both doing it. It seems the approach is to confuse as many people as possible and they'll believe whatever we (both sides) tell them.

      August 14, 2012 at 4:38 pm | Report abuse | Reply
      • Mike

        false equivalence is false

        August 14, 2012 at 6:33 pm | Report abuse |
  20. Waldo

    Zero Comments > Critical Comments.

    CNN = Cowards.

    Good luck when the "You're Terminated" axe falls.

    You know it's coming, right?

    I mean, the ratings.......have you seen them?


    August 14, 2012 at 2:24 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • Mike

      right, harp on CNN's rating, because ratings are an accurate gauge of journalistic integrity. Look at the ratings over on the Red news channel, through the roof, I guess they must be completely fair and balanced...

      August 14, 2012 at 6:35 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  21. guerrarestauracao

    Why do even have such an idiot as Sununu?? You are only giving him the forum that he craves. It gives him the opportunity to rant uncontrollably as seen on your show. His rants explain why he is the "ex" governor of NH.

    August 14, 2012 at 2:24 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • Mark Newsom

      The producers wanted a fight, so they invited Sununu. They know him, they know how to push his buttons, they know how to piss him off.

      August 14, 2012 at 5:27 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  22. Fred Cole

    Brilliant job, Soledad, in not losing your cool as Sununu practically went blue in the face regurgitating the Republican talking points. There's no arguing using reason with people like him. They think the louder they talk the more truthful they can make their idiotic positions. Facts be damned!

    August 14, 2012 at 2:22 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • Mark Newsom

      I'm pretty sure Soledad and the producers know what to expect from Mr. Sununu. She came to a fight and had her papers in hand to support her point. If it was unexpected, she wouldn't have had her papers ready. I can imagine them telling her in her ear piece, "Okay Soledad, are you ready for Sununu? We know you can make him loose him temper. Go for it, ready? Aaaannnd, your on..."

      August 14, 2012 at 5:20 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  23. Mary Cook

    Soledad should learn the facts instead of reading left wing blogs. She is sounding like Rachel. Too hard to watch.

    August 14, 2012 at 2:06 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • Mark Newsom

      It was hard to watch.

      August 14, 2012 at 5:16 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • ttbala

      Mary Cook, you are the idiot,k, maybe you should educate yourself by reading the facts like Solidad before opening your mouth, but then agan what do the republicans know accept lie and screem

      August 14, 2012 at 6:51 pm | Report abuse | Reply
      • Fallon

        I'm sorry, who's the idiot? Perhaps spelling Soledad's name correctly, and all the other words in your poorly crafted sentence would better plead your case.

        August 16, 2012 at 2:49 am | Report abuse |
  24. Mark Newsom

    Okay, let's agree that you were the one with factual information: what is meant by a "reduction in expected rate of growth?" What does that mean to the program? What does that mean to the beneficiaries? What are the affects on current and future Medicare recipients? Without understanding what it means, everything is left to speculation.

    August 14, 2012 at 2:04 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • CBO Document

      You can read it for yourself, there's no need to ask those questions. However, what's being discussed in the documented he referenced is purely discussion of how the budgetary changes would affect costs and has nothing to do with who/how people would be covered.

      The document discussing how it affects people is below; especially as it pertains to medicare and medicaid. You really have to read the whole document or you're basically going to miss pertinent data.

      August 14, 2012 at 11:30 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  25. Prariedoc

    I've come to expect that independent fact checking doesn't bother Republicans who're looking to take power and control. As far as they're concerned anything that conflicts with their point of view comes from the Democrats and/or the Obama administration and therefore is wrong. Ms. O'Brien would save herself much frustration with such people as Mr. Sununu if she simply didn't give them a platform to lie to the American people!

    August 14, 2012 at 1:51 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • Mark Newsom

      If she did not let the other side speak, she would be accused of....not giving the other side a chance to speak. But in the case of this morning, niether one of them was interested in letting the other explain their side (probably due to the 3 minutes and 50 seconds the producer gave for the interview). However, Soledad maintained her composure better than Sununu.

      August 14, 2012 at 5:08 pm | Report abuse | Reply
      • Mike

        "probably due to the 3 minutes and 50 seconds the producer gave to the interview"

        This is a massive problem with modern political news, and news in general. The "alright, we're out of time" factor kills any possibility of a real discussion of anything controversial. I don't like his politics, but William Buckley's show was great in this regard. Real discussion, with a reasonable timeframe to actually talk things over seriously...

        August 14, 2012 at 6:38 pm | Report abuse |
  26. So...

    So, basically, Sununu just got owned by Soledad.

    August 14, 2012 at 1:47 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • Mark Newsom

      I seriously doubt that she has any interest in owning him.

      August 14, 2012 at 5:15 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  27. Salvatore Esproma

    I wish all current interviewers had the audacity that Soledad exhibits when dealing with politicians who change the subject, throw around unsupported claims, and use data selectively to boost their own misguided opinions. Please keep it up Soledad, you do great work!

    August 14, 2012 at 1:09 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • Mark Newsom

      Erin Burnett does a pretty awesome job at it.

      August 14, 2012 at 5:09 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  28. Allan Blackman

    Kudos to Soledad for her courage to stand up to the Sununu bully and not take his crap. It is refreshing to see the media tell the truth to BS.

    August 14, 2012 at 1:03 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • Mark Newsom

      I think it was her paycheck that kept her in the fight. What I mean is, that's her job. I'm sure she and the producers knew Sununu would go the direction he did. That's probably why they asked him on. I bet she knew a fight was coming otherwise she would not have been so prepared.

      August 14, 2012 at 5:13 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  29. Declan


    August 14, 2012 at 1:01 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  30. goodcitizens

    The hatred and the rage they have against president Obama is soooo big that it is very scary...Unbelievable!

    August 14, 2012 at 12:59 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • Mark Newsom

      Funny thing is though, the Democrats show the exact same hatred for the Republicans. There is sooo much hype out there right now from both sides that people seem to almost be in a clueless frenzy.

      August 14, 2012 at 4:35 pm | Report abuse | Reply
      • Mike

        false equivalence is false. both parties are bad, but one is, time and again, clearly worse...

        August 14, 2012 at 6:40 pm | Report abuse |
  31. Face It

    CNN will defend Obama until judgement day.........This is a liberal blog

    August 14, 2012 at 12:58 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • Mark Newsom

      Yyyeeeah, you're probably right.

      August 14, 2012 at 5:10 pm | Report abuse | Reply

Post a comment


CNN welcomes a lively and courteous discussion as long as you follow the Rules of Conduct set forth in our Terms of Service. Comments are not pre-screened before they post. You agree that anything you post may be used, along with your name and profile picture, in accordance with our Privacy Policy and the license you have granted pursuant to our Terms of Service.