Today’s Headlines – August 29, 2012

Today’s early morning highlights from the major news organizations, including news from the Republican convention in Tampa and previews of Rep. Paul Ryan’s speech coming tonight.

The Wall Street Journal: Republicans Anoint Romney
Where Mrs. Romney sought to round out her husband’s public image, Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey suggested the policy direction Mr. Romney would take. Mr. Romney, he said, would tell the nation the “hard truths” needed to shore up the federal balance sheet. His speech appeared to lay the foundation for calls by Mr. Romney and his running mate, Rep. Paul Ryan (R., Wis.) to enact spending and tax cuts and changes to Medicare, which Mr. Ryan has championed in Congress. “We believe in telling hard-working families the truth about our country’s fiscal realities, telling them what they already know, the math of federal spending doesn’t add up,” Mr. Christie said (Nelson and McKinnon, 8/28).

The New York Times: Platform’s Sharp Turn To Right Has Conservatives Cheering
The new platform — with its call to reshape Medicare to give fixed amounts of money to future beneficiaries so they can buy their own coverage, its tough stance on illegal immigration and its many calls to shrink the size and scope of government — shows just how far rightward the party has shifted in both tone and substance in the decades since it adopted the 1980 platform, which was considered a triumph for conservatives at the time (Cooper, 8/28).

For more headlines …

Los Angeles Times: Ryan Falls In Line With Romney
Among the most common adjectives used by supporters to describe Rep. Paul D. Ryan are “genuine” and “principled.” … In the last two weeks, however, that sense of unshakable conviction has been put to the test as Ryan — who speaks at the Republican National Convention on Wednesday night — has been forced to modify his positions on such key issues as abortion, Medicare and military spending, subsuming his own beliefs to those of his running mate and new boss, Mitt Romney. It is a conundrum that faces almost every candidate for vice president, and opens them to attacks from opponents. President Obama’s campaign has tried to tar Ryan as a hypocrite — and shift the debate in the race away from the Republicans’ preferred issue, the economy (Landsberg, 8/29).

USA Today: Paul Ryan Aims To Convince Voters Of Readiness
After 14 years in Congress, Paul Ryan has become the Republican Party’s brand name for conservative economic policies: low taxes, reduced spending and entitlement reform, all wrapped into a GOP budget plan that bears his name. As he prepares to give the most important speech of his career tonight as the Republican nominee for vice president and introduce himself to millions of Americans, the 42-year-old congressman from Wisconsin must sell voters on a different proposition: his own readiness to become president of the United States. … Ryan authored the Republican budget plan passed by the House earlier this year that included deep spending cuts and a restructuring of Medicare that has become a flashpoint of debate in the political campaign season. “From that standpoint, he’s at least in the ballpark” of the kind of experience voters expect a vice president to have, (Joel) Goldstein said (Korte, 8/29).

The Wall Street Journal: McCarthy: Romney Win Would Be Mandate To Revamp Medicare
A victory by Mitt Romney in November would provide a mandate to enact a Medicare  overhaul to prevent the health care program from going bankrupt in a little more than a decade, House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (R., Calif.) said. The No. 3 House Republican told a group of reporters Tuesday that a Romney administration would be able to pursue the sort of radical shakeup outlined by Mr. Romney’s running mate, Rep. Paul Ryan (R., Wis.). “It goes to what the election is all about,” said Mr. McCarthy, who is in Tampa for the Republican National Convention. “If there’s a mandate going through this election, it’s to save Medicare” (Boles, 8/28).

Politico: No Kaboom From Ryan Medicare Bomb
Democrats thought Paul Ryan’s Medicare proposal would shift the focus away from Mitt Romney, terrify the elderly and take places like Florida and other key states off the table. That’s not happening. Not yet, anyway (Dovere and Nather, 8/29).

The Wall Street Journal: For Romney, Florida Win Is Key
Matthew Corrigan, chairman of the political science and public administration department at the University of North Florida, said Mr. Romney needs to energize social conservatives and tea-party supporters concentrated in the northern and southwestern parts of the state, a task helped by his choice of Mr. Ryan as running mate. He also has to win independents in central Florida, which he hopes to accomplish by touting his business credentials, Mr. Corrigan said. Mr. Ryan’s proposals to revamp Medicare raised the prospect that the Romney campaign would lose ground with Florida’s seniors, who make up roughly a quarter of the electorate. But recent polling suggests Mr. Romney is holding on to a significant lead among that group (Campo-Flores, 8/28).

The Wall Street Journal: Santorum Highlights Abortion Debate
(Former Sen. Rick) Santorum, who consistently outpaced Mr. Romney among social-issues conservatives, reminded the party faithful – and television viewers at home – that the GOP also observes strict limits on abortion, fighting for the rights of the “born and unborn” (O’Connor, 8/28).

The Associated Press/The Washington Post: Rep. Jeff Flake Wins Arizona GOP Primary For US Senate Seat; Vows Fight On Obama Policies
With the easy defeat of an unexpectedly aggressive primary challenger, Arizona Rep. and GOP Senate nominee Jeff Flake brushed off speculation of a bruised candidacy with a vow to repeal President Barack Obama’s economic and health care policies (8/29).

The Washington Post: Fast Fact Check: Has Obama Really Gutted Medicare Of $700 Billion? (Video)
The Washington Post’s Fact Checker, Glenn Kessler, takes a look at the GOP claim that President Obama cut $700 billion from Medicare. But there is a lot less to that fact than it appears (Kessler, 8/28).

The Washington Post: The Fact Checker: Answering Readers’ Questions About Medicare
We returned from vacation to find lots of questions from readers about Medicare. The two campaigns have been engaged in a tit-for-tat war of words that, according to the latest Washington Post-ABC News poll, appears to have resulted in a draw so far. For the moment, we will not delve into the details of those ads except to note with amusement this new Romney ad that accurately quotes Obama from four years ago.   Perhaps one reason why the Medicare fight has resulted in a draw is because both parties have played rhetorical games with the old-age health program (Kessler, 8/28).

The Wall Street Journal: WellPoint’s Braly Quits Amid Pressure
Under pressure from investors unhappy with the health insurer’s performance and direction, WellPoint Inc. Chief Executive Angela Braly resigned Tuesday, and the company’s board said it would begin a search for a permanent replacement. The abrupt shift came as the board’s leadership had been meeting with major investors in the wake of a disappointing second-quarter earnings report that sharpened concerns about Ms. Braly and the company’s strategy. Indeed, lead independent director Jackie M. Ward was scheduled to meet with other investors Wednesday (Wilde Mathews and Kamp, 8/28).

Los Angeles Times: WellPoint CEO Angela Braly Quits, Bowing To Investor Pressure
The nation’s second-largest health insurer, which runs Anthem Blue Cross in California, announced late Tuesday that Angela Braly, 51, had stepped down effective immediately. WellPoint, which runs Blue Cross plans in 14 states and has more than 33 million customers nationwide, named John Cannon, its general counsel, as interim CEO. Braly had been dogged by criticism over WellPoint’s slumping stock, managerial blunders and disappointing earnings. She also caught the ire of consumers and even President Obama in 2010 for trying to raise rates by up to 39% in California (Terhune, 8/29).

Reuters/The New York Times: WellPoint C.E.O. Resigns As Sales Fall
WellPoint, a health insurance company, said on Tuesday that its chief executive, Angela F. Braly, had stepped down. It said it would look at internal and external candidates for a successor (8/28).

The New York Times: Sharp Cuts In Dental Coverage For Adults On Medicaid
Banned from tightening Medicaid eligibility in recent years, many states have instead slashed optional benefits for millions of poor adults in the program. Teeth have suffered disproportionately (Goodnough, 8/28).