Free Markets, Free People

Medicare plan

Democratic Senator Ron Wyden tries to delink himself from Ryan Medicare plan

To date it’s been an attempt that mostly gets fussy about word usage, but my guess is it will get more pointed:

Gov. Romney is talking nonsense. Bipartisanship requires that you not make up the facts. I did not ‘co-lead a piece of legislation.’ I wrote a policy paper on options for Medicare. Several months after the paper came out I spoke and voted against the Medicare provisions in the Ryan budget. Governor Romney needs to learn you don’t protect seniors by makings things up, and his comments today sure won’t help promote real bipartisanship.

That’s obviously in reaction to a statement by Romney in which he talked about legislation, not a policy paper.

So Wyden is right, the quote is incorrect.

But Wyden is being a bit disingenuous too.  You don’t vote for parts of a budget so claiming you voted “against the Medicare provisions” of a budget are a bit of nonsense as well.  Democrats voted against the entire Ryan budget, the Medicare provisions being only  a part of that.

Even Think Progress has some problems with the attempted delinking driven by the inconvenient politics of having a Democratic Senator’s name on a plan that Democrats have chosen to mischaracterize and demonize:

The plan Sen. Wyden co-authored with Ryan does bear a striking resemblance to the proposed Medicare changes in Ryan’s latest budget for the House GOP. Both keep traditional Medicare as a kind of public option, in an exchange where it would compete with private plans offering insurance to seniors. The government would give seniors support for purchasing these plans, and that support would be benchmarked to the cost of the second-least expensive plan. The plans would also be prohibited from discriminating based on pre-existing conditions.

Where they begin to differ is Paul supports more market based solutions while Wyden wants government based solutions.

But this sort of linkage is inconvenient when you’re claiming the GOP ticket is “trying to end Medicare as we know it” (even though it is ObamaCare which is pulling $700+ billion out of Medicare).  Avik Roy has the “bottom line” on that meme:

The bottom line: if Romney and Ryan leave you the option to remain in the 1965-vintage, fee-for-service, traditional Medicare program, and you claim that Medicare has “ended as we know it,” what you’ve really ended is the English language as we know it.

Pretty much. 

The point?  Ron Wyden did indeed “co-author” a Medicare plan with Paul Ryan.  There’s no question about that.  And it was indeed a bipartisan plan, by definition.  In fact the paper is entitled “Bipartisan Options for the Future” and lists both Wyden and Ryan as the authors.

Finally, their plan contains this paragraph:

We are a Democrat and Republican; a Senator and a Representative; senior members of our respective Budget Committees; and members of the committees that have jurisdiction over Medicare and health care costs. As budgeteers, we understand the difficulty presented by demographic changes over the next several decades. As members with policy oversight, we recognize and encourage the potential for innovation to improve care and hold down costs. And most important, as representatives of hardworking Americans in Oregon and Southern Wisconsin, we realize our absolute responsibility to preserve the Medicare guarantee of affordable, accessible health care for every one of the nation’s seniors for decades to come.

Sounds like a pretty bipartisan effort to me.

Here’s the problem for the Democrats.  They need badly to demonize Paul Ryan as an extremist who is out to push granny over the Medicare cliff and end Medicare as we know it.  That’s because “Medicscaring” seniors is a tried and true method of gaining votes, and Democrats know it.  They’ve deployed it many times in the past.

And bipartisan cooperation?  No way, no how, can’t let that sort of thing become public knowledge when you have an active campaign beginning to label Ryan as an extremist ideologue.

But the facts don’t support that sort of branding campaign.  Not only has Ryan not attempted in any form or fashion to end Medicare, he’s teamed up with a liberal Senator to put forward a plan to actually save it (even while the loudest critic is pulling that $700+ billion from the program via ObamaCare) and make it sustainable.

How inconvenient. 

That is why Wyden is trying his best to delink from Ryan. And you can imagine from whence the pressure to do so is coming.  But it’s a hard sale to make when his name is clearly associated with Ryan’s on a plan he claimed will “preserve the Medicare guarantee of affordable, accessible health care for every one of the nation’s seniors for decades to come”, isn’t it?

Not that it will stop them from trying.

~McQ

Twitter: @McQandO

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