In case anyone was tempted to make the argument that the Paul Ryan-Ron Wyden Medicare compromise released this morning offers a stepping stone toward a fully private Medicare system, here's Sen. Wyden attempting to soothe wary liberals by insisting that the plan actually makes traditional, government-run Medicare permanent. Via Philip Klein at The Washington Examiner:
"What this bill does is it embeds for all time a program that progressives have felt very strongly about, and that is traditional Medicare will always be part of this program," Wyden said. "Not something that will be shrouded in ambiguity. It will be permanently there. That, of course, is important for progressive folks."
When I wrote earlier today that the Ryan-Wyden compromise makes it even tougher to make an argument against the existence of a federally run health insurer, this is the sort of thing I was talking about. Passing legislation usually requires compromise, but this one gave up a lot of ground in hopes of sparking bipartisan support for reform. And after making the sacrifice play, Ryan may not even end up with much to show for it. Senior Democratic staffers are already issuing anonymous sneers at the plan. And despite Wyden's assurances, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi has taken to warning her Twitter followers that the plan is just a sneaky attempt to kill traditional Medicare completely.