Today’s Headlines – August 14, 2012

Today’s early morning highlights from the major news organizations, including more news and analysis related to GOP presidential hopeful Mitt Romney’s running-mate pick and how the Romney-Ryan team appears to be playing on the campaign trail.

The New York Times: Medicare Rises As Prime Election Issue
With Mitt Romney’s selection of Representative Paul D. Ryan as his running mate, Florida quickly emerged on Monday as a critical test of the nationwide Republican gamble that concerns over the mounting federal debt can blunt potent Democratic attacks on conservative proposals to revamp Medicare (Nagourney, 8/13).

Los Angeles Times: A Closer Look At Paul Ryan’s Federal Budget Plan
Under Ryan’s plan, which has passed the Republican-controlled House twice in slightly different versions, the Internal Revenue Service would tax the wealthiest Americans less, but many of the poorest ones more; Medicare would be transformed; Medicaid would be cut by about a third; and all functions of government other than those health programs, Social Security and the military would shrink to levels not seen since the 1930s (Lauter and Mascaro, 8/14).

For more headlines …

The Associated Press/Washington Post: Romney-Ryan Ticket Faces Growing Pains As Dems Attack Medicare Proposals
The newly shaped Republican presidential ticket is fighting growing pains amid charges from President Barack Obama’s re-election team that challenger Mitt Romney favors his new running mate’s controversial plans to overhaul Medicare and cut trillions of dollars from social programs (8/14).

The Washington Post: Both Camps Hit Trail Running In Race To Define GOP Ticket
President Obama, beginning a bus tour in Iowa, sought to use Ryan’s seven terms in the House to lash the Republican ticket to dysfunction in Congress. In North Carolina, Vice President Biden deepened an assault on the GOP ticket over Ryan’s proposal to slash the federal budget and overhaul Medicare. And the Republican team gave a glimpse of how it hopes to deploy the 42-year-old: as an energetic charmer at ease campaigning in his native Midwest. On Monday, he took the spotlight in front of thousands at the Iowa State Fair in Des Moines. Far from playing the part of a conservative ideologue, … he avoided any mention of his signature effort to reform domestic entitlement programs. But he was heckled by protesters over his budget plans nonetheless, quickly transforming his first solo appearance as a national candidate into a chaotic spectacle (Gardner and Helderman, 8/13).

The Wall Street Journal: Presidential Race Snaps Into Gear
The presidential candidates traded barbs on Medicare and the economy in three battleground states Monday, as the campaign for the White House sped into a sprint. The day mixed debate on the central fiscal issues facing Washington with traditional on-the-ground campaigning at venues including the Iowa State Fair in Des Moines, where Rep. Paul Ryan, in jeans and cowboy boots, made his first solo appearance since joining the GOP ticket. Across the state at a family farm in western Iowa, President Barack Obama, also in casual clothes, pledged aid to farmers suffering from a drought that has slashed crop yields (Murray, Lee and Nelson, 8/13).

Los Angeles Times: In Florida, Romney Attacks Obama, Defends Ryan, On Medicare
From the moment Paul D. Ryan was picked as Mitt Romney’s running mate, speculation mounted about whether the Wisconsin congressman’s controversial proposal to reform Medicare would harm the ticket’s prospects among seniors, notably in this battleground state. On Monday, as Romney campaigned on Florida’s Gold Coast, he argued that Ryan and Republicans sought to protect the healthcare program for the elderly and that President Obama would gut it (Mehta, 8/14).

The Associated Press/Washington Post: Dems Insist Romney Quietly Supports Ryan’s Budgets
Led by President Barack Obama, Democrats claimed on Monday that Republican challenger Mitt Romney privately backs controversial plans to overhaul Medicare and cut trillions from social programs that his new vice presidential running mate has publicly proposed. Rep. Paul Ryan “has given definition to the vague commitments that Romney has been making,” Vice President Joe Biden said as the Democrats welcomed the Wisconsin lawmaker to the race with a barrage of criticism (8/13).

Politico: GOP Memo: ‘Don’t Say Entitlement Reform’
It only took two hours after the Paul Ryan vice presidential announcement for Republican congressional candidates to get their talking points on how to spin the Ryan budget and Medicare attacks. “Do not say: ‘entitlement reform,’ ‘privatization,’ ‘every option is on the table,’” the National Republican Congressional Committee said in an email memo. “Do say: ‘strengthen,’ ‘secure,’ ‘save,’ ‘preserve, ‘protect’” (Isenstadt, 8/13).

Politico: Warren Ties Brown To Ryan Plan
Over in Massachusetts, Elizabeth Warren is the latest Democratic Senate candidate to use Paul Ryan as a line of attack against her GOP opponent (Schultheis, 8/13).

The Associated Press/Wall Street Journal: Brooklyn Dentist Admits Fraud In Medicaid Probe
New York authorities say a Brooklyn dentist has pleaded guilty to fraud, admitting he paid recruiters to solicit homeless Medicaid patients with cash. Attorney General Eric Schneiderman and Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli say dentist Lawrence J. Bruckner of Plainview has also admitted failing to pay taxes on payments he received from other dentists who worked at his clinics (8/13).

Politico: Abortion-Rights Groups Absent On Pain Laws
When new limits on abortions are proposed, abortion-rights groups usually go all out to stop them. So why haven’t they gone all out against state fetal-pain laws, enacted in nine states since early 2010? These laws ban abortion after 20 weeks, based on the controversial assertion that the fetus can then experience pain. They’re handing victories to anti-abortion groups, and so far there’s only one major challenge from an abortion-rights group: in Arizona, where the 9th Circuit Court early this month temporarily blocked the state law (Smith, 8/13).