The Ron Wyden, Paul Ryan Pile On Begins

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December 15, 2011 5:43 a.m.

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.

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