Paul Ryan And Bill Clinton Chat Backstage About Medicare, NY-26 (VIDEO)

May 25, 2011 11:36 a.m.

Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) is not backing down from his Medicare privatization proposals, in the wake of the GOP’s stunning defeat in the NY-26 special election. And as ABC News reports, he’s getting some friendly advice from an unlikely source: Democratic former President Bill Clinton.

The two were seen talking backstage at Wednesday’s Fiscal Summit held by the Pete Peterson Foundation, where they were both speaking. And apparently without their knowledge, a camera picked up some of the conversation.

“I’m glad we won this race in New York,” Clinton can be seen saying in the video. “But I hope Democrats don’t use it as an excuse to do nothing.”

Ryan responded: “My guess is it’s gonna sink into paralysis, is what’s gonna happen. And you know the math. I mean, It’s just – we knew we were putting ourselves out there. But you gotta start this. You gotta get out there. You gotta get this thing moving.”

Clinton told Ryan to call him if he ever wanted to talk about the issue, Ryan said he would, and the two parted.

As ABC notes, Clinton’s actual speech was substantively the same as his discussion with Ryan: The NY-26 election turned on the public not liking Ryan’s Medicare proposals, and Clinton agrees with that same judgment to oppose Ryan’s plan, but he also cautioned against doing nothing on the issue as a reaction to the election.

Despite his prediction to Clinton that the debate would now be paralyzed, Ryan nevertheless told ABC afterward that he was not backing down from the issue.

“This is not the time to go wobbly,” Ryan said, an in actual on-the-record interview. “They (Democrats) are going to run these attack ads at us regardless. This is a time for leaders to be leaders. This is not a time for us to follow our fears, this is a time to lead because if we don’t address our countries fiscal problems we are going to have a debt crisis and the people who are going to get hurt the first and the worst are the people who need government the most, the elderly and the poor.”

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