Remember the $716 billion in Medicare ‘cuts’?

From a Romney/Ryan campaign ad aired in August.
From a Romney/Ryan campaign ad aired in August.

During the 2012 presidential campaign, one of Mitt Romney’s central lines of attack was that President Obama “cut” Medicare by $716 billion. It was the Republican’s way of deflecting criticism over his plan to eliminate Medicare altogether and replace it with a voucher scheme.

But the argument was burdened by some rather glaring flaws. For one thing, Romney’s criticism wasn’t true. For another, the $716 billion in Medicare savings were embraced by congressional Republicans, including Romney’s running mate, in the GOP budget plan. As Bill Clinton said at the Democratic convention, it “takes some brass to attack a guy for doing what you did.”

With the election having come and gone, it’s fascinating to see GOP policymakers pretend the campaign rhetoric was never uttered.

Mitt Romney’s Medicare budget might be fading away just as quickly as Romney himself.

During the campaign, candidate Romney repeatedly hammered President Obama for cutting $716 billion from Medicare as part of his signature healthcare law. Romney pledged to repeal those cuts in a break from his running mate, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.).

Ryan, the House Budget Committee Chairman, had preserved Obama’s Medicare cuts in two consecutive budget proposals that repealed the rest of the Affordable Care Act. Ryan is now back at work crafting his next budget, and Republicans on his committee say the $716 billion in Medicare cuts will likely survive.

Rep. Rob Woodall (R-Ga.) said the $716 billion cut is part of the committee’s over-arching plan to save and reform Medicare. He said he doesn’t expect Ryan to back away from any part of that goal just because Romney was on a different page.

Woodall added that Obama’s $716 billion in Medicare savings, generated by reducing reimbursements and overpayments to hospitals and private insurers, represents “a sound proposal.”

Congressional Republicans aren’t quite prepared to say out loud, “Never mind all that nonsense from Mitt Romney,” but the implication isn’t subtle.