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RNC Chair Reince Priebus: Obama has 'blood on his hands' with Medicare

Matt Rourke / AP

Paul Ryan wants to overhaul Medicare, but according to RNC Chair Reince Priebus, it's President Obama who has the "blood on his hands."

Priebus appeared on Meet the Press this Sunday to talk about Mitt Romney's newly selected running mate, Rep. Paul Ryan. Ryan had just joined the ticket the day before, but already his presence was drawing attention back to substantive policy issues like Medicare.

“This president stole $700 billion from Medicare to fund Obamacare,” Priebus told moderator David Gregory. “If any person has blood on their hands in regard to Medicare, it’s Barack Obama.”

Romney used the same $700 billion figure against the president in his speech naming Ryan as his running mate, vowing to “preserve and protect Medicare and Social Security” for future generations.

But as the architect of the Republican budget, Ryan has made Medicare a signature issue in his crusade to reduce the deficit. The Ryan budget would effectively end Medicare as we know it, replacing it with vouchers for private health insurance.

“He’s going to protect Medicare for seniors, he’s going to protect Medicare for future generations,” said Wisconsin governor Scott Walker, who also appeared on Meet the Press.

Though Romney has endorsed the Ryan plan, it remains an open question whether he will adopt Ryan's proposed Medicare overhaul. An NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll from last April found that 53% of respondents were satisfied with the current Medicare structure or thought it needed only minor modifications, compared to the 44% who felt a complete overhaul was necessary.

The Obama campaign wasted no time in pouncing on the self-proclaimed “America’s Comeback Team” Romney/Ryan ticket, releasing a video attacking the new vice presidential pick and his proposed budget plan on the very day his candidacy was announced.

“It hurts seniors. It hurts middle-class families. It hurts students,” the ad charges.