The Ron Wyden, Paul Ryan Pile On Begins


We’ll have much more later today on the big news that Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) have teamed up on a plan to partially privatize Medicare.

But to give you a sense for just how poisonous Wyden’s colleagues on the Hill find this alliance — both on policy merits and on political grounds, here’s a quote from a very senior Dem congressional aide.“For starters, this is bad policy and a complete political loser,” this aide said. “On top of the terrible politics, they even admit that it dismantles Medicare but achieves no budgetary savings while doing so — the worst of all worlds. Thanks for nothing.”

Ryan and Wyden both contend that, when it’s finally drafted, their legislation will score as a cost saver, because it includes an enforcement mechanism: if Congress can’t find health care savings on its own, the plan automatically caps spending on the program and allows it to grow at a rate lower than medical inflation.

But setting the policy argument aside, the bigger point is that a lot of Dems feel like Wyden’s trespassing here, and hanging his colleagues out to dry on the politics as well.


Brian Beutler is TPM’s senior congressional reporter. Since 2009, he’s led coverage of health care reform, Wall Street reform, taxes, the GOP budget, the government shutdown fight and the debt limit fight. He can be reached at