Wyden blasts Romney for "talking nonsense" and "making things up"

Kari Chisholm FacebookTwitterWebsite

Last December, we learned that Senator Ron Wyden had been working with Congressman Paul Ryan to craft a Medicare reform plan.

Naturally, folks on both the left and the right freaked out. Liberals were worried that Wyden was giving bipartisan cover to Ryan, while conservatives cried foul, saying that Ryan sold them out. (Remember: the so-called Wyden/Ryan plan committed Ryan to protecting Medicare as a public option forever, just eight months after he promised to abolish it.)

And shortly thereafter, the Wyden/Ryan "plan" (which was really just a "conversation starter" policy paper, not fleshed-out legislation) was pretty well abandoned. Ryan went back to trying to pass a budget that put Medicare on a path to dissolution, and Wyden voted against that budget every chance he got.

Predictably, Mitt Romney is now citing the Wyden/Ryan collaboration as proof of Ryan's bipartisan cred.

Here's what Ron Wyden had to say about that:

Governor Romney is talking nonsense. Bipartisanship requires that you not make up the facts.

I did not "co-lead a piece of legislation." I wrote a policy paper on options for Medicare. Several months after the paper came out I spoke and voted against the Medicare provisions in the Ryan budget.

Governor Romney needs to learn you don't protect seniors by makings things up, and his comments sure won't help promote real bipartisanship.

There's lots of coverage, of course: Think Progress, Huffington Post, Slate, the Oregonian, and much more.

And if you want to rewind the tape and actually dig in to what the Wyden/Ryan concept was (rather than what critics feared it might be), check out Wyden's 2400-word column at Huffington Post from March.

Comments

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    Full disclosure: My firm built Ron Wyden's campaign website. I speak only for myself.

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    "And shortly thereafter, the Wyden/Ryan 'plan' (which was really just a 'conversation starter' policy paper, not fleshed-out legislation) was pretty well abandoned."

    That's just not true, Kari. The major change from the original Ryan Plan to the Wyden/Ryan plan was the provision ensuring that the option to continue to be covered under traditional Medicare will be available to every senior.

    That provision hasn't been "abandoned." In fact, it was included in the 2012 Republican budget. It continues to be touted by Ryan, Romney and every Republican who discusses Medicare Reform.

    The Obama surrogates keep ignoring this because they'd rather keep running against the original Ryan plan. And its unfortunate that Wyden is taking heat for once again being willing to work across party lines.

    On one thing we agree. People SHOULD read Wyden's piece in the Huffington Post that you linked. It explains very well that the Ryan/Wyden proposal is not the bugaboo that useless idiots like Paul Krugman make it out to be.

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      When Romney and Ryan talk about their proposal, they always - always - take pains to say that Medicare will remain available to "today's seniors".

      That's a far cry from committing to Medicare forever.

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        Not touching Medicare for people 55 and older today was always part of Ryan's plan. The agreement to keep Medicare as an option permanently was the centerpiece of the Ryan/Wyden proposal. That was also included in the 2012 Ryan budget and remains part of the Ryan plan today.

        This is in addition to the promise that any change will only apply to people under 55--which means 10 years away from eligibility for Medicre--today.

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          Jack, it's basically impossible for you to describe what the Romney plan is going forward.

          That's not your fault. It's Romney's.

          Just today, Team Romney flip-flopped four times - spinning a full 720 degrees - on just one part of the Romney/Ryan plan.

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            I'm certainly not going to stake my life on any politician's consistency, much less a politician and his team of surrogates, but just this morning I heard Romney on TV once again saying that even people under 55 today will have the option to stay on traditional Medicare or switch to an alternative system "sort of like Medicare Advantage today" that will effectively be a private system.

            I don't know why you guys are so reluctant to give Wyden credit for improving the Republican Medicare Plan.

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              I'm glad you are calling it the Republican Medicare Plan, Jack, because now the entire GOP is branded with the truth that they are the party that kills Medicare as we know it, pushing a privatization/coupon/voucher plan that pushes medical costs on retirees in order to protect more tax breaks for billionaires. Since its inception the GOP has been looking for a way to kill the popular and effective single payer plan we know as Medicare. It is so good that most Americans would like to have it for themselves. But please tell me how you are going to convince middle ago and younger people to pay for the full coverage plan now in effect, while they will get a 50% coupon for junk major medical corporate insurance instead of a Medicare card. As this election proceeds the down ballot GOP candidates are going to be running for cover from the RomneyRyan voucherization plan.

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                "Since its inception the GOP has been looking for a way to kill the popular and effective single payer plan we know as Medicare."

                That is false. All Republicans had to do was sit on their hands in the early 80's and both Medicare and Social Security would be bankrupt. And I don't mean a forecast bankruptcy in the next 10 years, I mean there was a time when they didn't know how they were going to fund the next month's checks.

                The 1983 Social Security Amendments were a landmark bipartisan deal that saved both programs. We'd do well not to forget that.

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        Senator Wyden reached reached across the aisle and tried to do business with someone who wanted President Obama to fail. Instead, had Senator Wyden listened to the Democratic Party of Multnomah County which passed a resolution calling for a Single Payer Health Care System, he would not now be in his defensive position.

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          Thanks for the plug, Randal! It's also worthy to note that at the very next Central Committee Meeting of the Multnomah Dems, Barbara Smith-Warner of Wyden's office came to offer the Senator's perspective. She did share with us that Sen. Wyden, as he often does, was trying to reach across party lines and the white paper was nothing more than that.

          Of course, our membership shared with her that we favored MUCH more progressive policies, and we also fretted about Wyden allowing Paul Ryan political cover. While I don't doubt Sen. Wyden's good intentions, he is more about trying to get things done than politics, and the GOP of 2010-212 is only about gaing political advantage.

          Boy, we didn't EVEN imagine how much cover Wyden would be giving Paul Ryan less than a year later...

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      You calling Paul Krugman a useless idiot is like the pot calling the kettle black.

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      I don't always agree with Paul Krugman but calling him a "useless idiot" is childish. The guy has a Nobel Prize, he's the 17th most cited economist in the world, and a number of his academic textbooks are widely used in colleges/universities. I wouldn't be inviting any comparisons between your resume and his if I were in your shoes.

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        I'd say Krugman started this by calling our senior senator a "useful idiot."

        The problem with Krugman is that he doesn't stick to his area of expertise. He uses his credentials to opine on a broad range of topics on which he has no special knowledge.

        That's fine. But then he is just one more voice in the fray like everyone else. If he can call people names, we can call him names.

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    Is Wyden's definition of being "independent" mean getting in bed with Ryan? Wyden claims to be an Obama supporter but his actions remind me of an old saying: "what you do speaks so loudly I cannot hear what you say".

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