In it, but not of it. TPM DC
He and others have alluded to this before, but never so bluntly. It explains why Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid issued such a blistering statement after the Committee's demise. "Republicans relentlessly sought to end Medicare as we know it by privatizing the program and putting seniors and future generations at the mercy of insurance companies," he said.
Both the GOP budget, authored by Paul Ryan, and the Rivlin-Domenici plan are fundamental overhauls of the health system for the elderly. Ryan's plan phases out traditional Medicare altogether, and replaces it with subsidized private insurance. Rivlin-Domenici partially privatizes the program, while leaving traditional Medicare in place as an option for seniors -- but it also creates incentives for people to switch into the new private system. In other words, Republicans began with a hardline conservative position and moved off it only a bit. Democrats rejected both, in favor of cuts and changes to the program that preserved the current system.
The Democrats' big ask, by contrast, was to increase taxes to a point between the effective rates under Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush. It's not even really close.