Tonight, Congressman Paul Ryan, the Republican nominee for vice president and champion of tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans at the expense of middle class and seniors, will address the Republican National Convention. But before he goes on, a few regular folks—college students and retirees, veterans, and Medicare recipients—stopped by to make their voices heard about what matters to the middle class.
For many Floridians, health care is a top priority, and the people we met today are concerned about what the extreme Romney-Ryan budget would mean for themselves and their families. Carole, who shared her story during this morning's press conference, says her husband was diagnosed with prostate cancer five years ago—and there is no way they'd be able to pay his medical bills without Medicare.
"Medicare paid for his excellent surgeons and the excellent treatment. It paid for chemotherapy, which is very, very expensive. We're middle class. Up until then we had a charmed life, but it hits you. It hits all of a sudden."
The fact that Mitt Romney and Ryan want to end Medicare as we know it and replace it with a voucher system prompted Carole to get up in front of a room of journalists and cameras and share her story—even though she says she'd never dreamed she'd do such a thing. There's just too much at risk to keep quiet. Carole explains, "I would say our medical bills are over a million dollars. Medicare paid for this. We have a small supplement, but it's dependent on Medicare. We have private homeowners' insurance that we can't afford anymore. If there's a voucher program for health care, I'm skeptical about turning over medical insurance to a private company."
Veterans are also worried about what a Romney-Ryan ticket means for their health. Annie, a Tampa senior who stood up at today's press conference, says her husband is a veteran who suffers from PTSD. She's worried that if the Republicans get elected, his medical benefits will get cut—or that the VA will be forced to cut back on his doctors and counselors. It's a concern Elena, a Tampa-area veteran, shares. "The President has always had our back," Elena says. "If we elect Romney, we'd be turning our backs on veterans when we need them most—when they gave us their all."
Annie sums up what's at stake. It's the reason they all came out today: "I don't want to go back to those eight years that we had before. I just don't want to go back. I want to go forward."