fresh voices from the front lines of change







In case you were wondering whether the Village would be dizzy with excitement over the Ryan-Wyden plan, here’s NBC’s First Read:

*** Wyden gives Romney cover: When he was asked about the new Paul Ryan (R)/Ron Wyden (D) Medicare proposal at last night’s debate, Romney said, “I hope people understand just how big today is for this country.” And if he’s the nominee, he won’t be kidding. Wyden partnering with Ryan on a plan to give seniors a choice between Medicare and a privatized system — which just happens to be Romney’s own plan — gives the former Massachusetts governor LOTS of cover on Medicare.

Earlier this week, we mentioned that President Obama hasn’t been performing well among seniors, and that Democrats are hoping that the Paul Ryan plan would help them narrow that margin. Consider this: At a time when Olympia Snowe or Susan Collins is hesitant to partner with the White House on any kind of legislation, specifically health care, here comes Ron Wyden embracing Paul Ryan. We know in political circles (especially in Chicago) Democrats have to be furious right now.

*** Why? The bipartisan stamp of approval: This is a potentially gigantic move. We know some Democrats think they can STILL run against the Romney-Ryan plan, but the bipartisan stamp of approval in push-backs from someone that isn’t viewed as someone who is simply a centrist Democrat trying to survive in a red state, is a pretty good response. And get this: Democrats are trying to win a special congressional election — on Medicare! — in Wyden’s home state of Oregon….

Even the liberal Ron Wyden …

Here’s a little dose of reality about this fabulous plan from Paul N. Van de Water at the CBPP:

The proposal for Medicare premium support by House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) and Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) differs in key respects from how many media reports are describing it.[1] Despite claims to the contrary, it likely would shift substantial costs to beneficiaries rather than protect them from such cost increases, could lead to the demise of traditional Medicare over time rather than preserve it, and likely would produce few savings.

Read the whole report, here. The details are damning.

At the debate last night both Gingrich and Romney embraced Ryan-Wyden. There is a simple reason. Just like Paul Ryan, they are desperate to disentangle themselves from that idiotic earlier plan of his because it is the single most potent attack line against them. The administration diluted it earlier with their embrace of Medicare cuts in the Grand Bargain negotiation, but Wyden just vaporized it. You can see by that Villager analysis from First Read, how they see it. Short of the Republicans disavowing it, which the debate last night showed isn’t going to happen, this will be the frame going forward: a Very Serious bipartisan stamp of approval.

I have heard that Wyden hates Obama because he didn’t stand up for his White Whale, the Free Choice Act. And so, like a typically brilliant liberal strategist, his response is to give cover to a very dangerous conservative leader, help him restore his reputation and win a tough reelection he was in danger of losing. And we will have moved the goalposts even farther to the right! I’m sure everyone in the party will learn the appropriate lesson from all that.

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