Why Aren't We Talking About Jobs and the Economy?

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- What happened to all the talk about jobs and the economy?

Since Mitt Romney announced Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan as his vice presidential running mate, the election conversation among Democrats and Republicans has shifted to Medicare and its future.

Jobs and the economy has been the central theme of American politics since Republicans started to campaign in the summer of 2011. The railing against President Barack Obama's economic and job creation policies has only strengthened in the past year as unemployment has stalled at 8.2% and as U.S. GDP has shown lethargic growth.

But since Ryan stepped into his new role, Republicans have refocused their message on Medicare.

"That's part of Paul Ryan's background, it's a major point of contention between the two parties and it's something that has to be dealt with by both parties because it is a fundamental difference between the two of them," said Glenn Bolger, a Republican pollster at Public Opinion Strategies.

Ryan sponsored a well-known budget proposal that addressed the popular entitlement program and eventually passed the House of Representatives.

Democrats have pounced on the pivot.

"Unwittingly, Romney gave everybody wide berth to move from the central message of his campaign and to an issue that Democrats are much more comfortable talking about," said David DiMartino, a Democratic strategist in Washington D.C.

In a conference call on Thursday, the Obama campaign said the GOP's decision to discuss Medicare and Ryan's budget plan was very good for the Democratic ticket. The campaign barely even mentioned jobs and the economy.

On the call, Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D., Md.) said Ryan's plan was based on transferring rising health care costs onto seniors. Republicans have claimed Obamacare would cut some $700 billion from Medicare.

Van Hollen slipped in a short comment about the economy on the last reporter question, as he repeated what has become a campaign mantra: "This is an election that goes beyond just playing for your base, and it's about persuading kind of working-class, middle-class Americans who realize that the policies that brought us to this economic crisis, and deep recession aren't the path out of this."

Pollster Bolger and strategist DiMartino both agreed that jobs and the economy will remain the central part of this election, but they said every election has to address other issues as well. Medicare eventually will fade from the conversation, but it will reemerge before November.

"Jobs and the economy, there's no question about it, is the dominant issue, and will continue to be the dominant issue," said Bolger.

"These issues will come back during the debates, they'll come back during the fall advertising campaigns -- we haven't heard the last of Medicare or jobs or tax returns," said DiMartino.

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