Space porn: These images are (quite literally) out of this world
With a dry erase marker and a local TV news crew, Mitt Romney today answered one of the biggest questions of his presidential campaign, taking full ownership of presumed vice-presidential nominee Rep. Paul Ryan’s controversial Medicare plan. In an interview with WBAY in Green Bay, Wis., Romney explained, ”Actually, Paul Ryan and my plan for Medicare, I think, is the same, if not identical — it’s probably close to identical.”
It was unclear, until now, exactly how similar Romney’s plan would be to his VP’s, as the campaign had left some intentional murkiness between the two men. Indeed, Romney’s comments contradict the claim from top Romney surrogate John Sununu, who said this week that Romney and Ryan’s Medicare plans are “very different.” ”Our plan is, for people 55 years of age and older, there’s no change. The only change I’d mention for 55 or older is we’d restore the $817 billion President Obama took out of the Medicare trust fund,” Romney told WBAY — apparently erroneously adding almost $100 billion to the amount of money he typically accuses Obama of taking from Medicare.
At a campaign stop in South Carolina later today, Romney took a page from Karl Rove’s playbook and pulled out a dry erase whiteboard, where he laid out in visual form his talking points on Medicare. The whiteboard had four quadrants, with a column for his plan and another for Obama’s plan, and a row for how the two plans would affect “seniors” and the “next gen.” Under Obama’s plan, Romney wrote “$716 billion cut” next to current seniors and “bankruptcy” next to next generation. For his plan, he wrote “no change” for current seniors and “solvent” for future generations.
Ryan’s plan, which Romney has now fully endorsed, was hugely unpopular when it was working its way through Congress, and some polling indicated that people liked it less the more they heard about it. But Romney has clearly made a strategic gamble that he can convince the American people before November that Medicare is in such dire straits that it will die without Ryan’s brutal medicine. While many progressives have been quick to dismiss this possibility, and Democrats were gleeful at the news of Ryan’s selection, Romney is a cautious and calculating player. He wouldn’t make such a decision rashly. He presumably has non-public data – internal polling, focus groups, Medicare cost projects — that lead him to believe that he has a good shot at fundamentally shifting public opinion on this issue before Election Day. Democrats would probably be wise to take that threat seriously.
Alex Seitz-Wald is Salon's political reporter. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org, and follow him on Twitter @aseitzwald.More Alex Seitz-Wald.
NASA astronaut Mike Hopkins
On December 28, 2013, Expedition 38 crew member Mike Hopkins participating in the second of two space walks to replace a degraded pump module on the International Space Station. (NASA astronaut Rick Mastracchio is reflected in his helmet!)
The Soyuz TMA-10M
The Soyuz TMA-10M headed towards the International Space Station with crew members from Expedition 37 onboard.
40 years ago the Apollo 8 mission flew up to the moon, orbited it ten times and then returned to Earth. This picture was taken from that flight and shows the Earth as it seemingly rises in similar fashion to a sunrise.
Sunrise from Expedition 36
NASA Flight Engineer Karen L. Nyberg of Expedition 36 took this photo of the sun rising -- a sight they saw nearly 16 times per day due to the speed of the International Space Station's orbit around the earth.
A pair of NanoRacks CubeSats -- nanosattelite spacecrafts carrying experiments -- were launched by Expedition 38.