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The Wyden-Ryan Plan, Statesmanship, and the Politics of Medicare

Senator Ron Wyden finds himself in a tough spot as he tries to extricate himself from his involvment in the Wyden-Ryan Medicare Reform Plan. Since Mitt Romney’s selection of Paul Ryan as his running mate, Romney has been touting Ryan’s work with Wyden as an example of Ryan’s willingness to reach out and compromise to find a solution to reforming Medicare.

Unfortunately, Romney used the word “legislation” instead of the word “plan” or “report” when talking about Wyden’s cooperation with Ryan. Wyden shot back that he never introduced legislation with Ryan and that he only co-authored a report with Ryan. Soledad O’Brien and other main-stream media have picked up on this to minimize Wyden’s involvement with Ryan.

But none of this minimizes the fact that Wyden and Ryan have together proposed  reforming Medicare much along the lines of Ryan’s original plan. In fact, if you want to see what Senator Wyden actually thought of the plan he co-authored with Ryan you can find it here in a press release issues by Ron Wyden’s senate office. – Wyden-Ryan Plan Press Release.

Wyden has for some time been trying to forge compromises when it comes to health care reform and Medicare reform. Before Obamacare was passed into law, Wyden attempted to forge a compromise of moderate senators from both parties. The compromise would have included the indivudual mandate that the Democrats wanted and various free-market reforms that the Republicans wanted. Senator Wyden is one of the few Democrats who think that allowing free-market forces to work in the health care system is a good thing.

At the time Wyden took some heat from the liberal faction of his party and his ideas eventually lost out to Obamacare. So the Wyden-Ryan Plan was not Sentaor Wyden’s first attempt at forging a bipartisan coalition to reform the health care system. In these attempts to forge a compromise and to reach out across the isle, Senator Wyden shows us what is lacking in today’s politics – statesmanship.

It takes statesmanship to forge compromises with the other party to save an entitlement program such as Medicare. Both Ron Wyden and Paul Ryan have shown the type of statesmanship this country needs. And they remind us that it is statesmanship that is lacking in the President of the United States.

So for now Ron Wyden has to take cover so his political career is not destroyed by the far left in his party. But if the Romney-Ryan ticket is successful this November, look for Romney and Ryan to reach out to Wyden and a handful of moderate Democrats to protect Medicare for current seniors and save it for generations to come.

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