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Ryan-Wyden Divides the Left?

5:52 PM, Dec 15, 2011 • By JOHN MCCORMACK
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Brian Beutler reports at TPM that Nancy Pelosi and the White House are pushing back hard against a new bipartisan Medicare reform proposed by Democrat Ron Wyden of Oregon and Republican Paul Ryan of Wisconsin: 

Two White House spokesmen -- Jay Carney and Dan Pfeiffer -- rejected the plan outright. Carney said the plan would "end Medicare as we know it."

Leaving Wyden's name out of it, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said, "[Paul] Ryan's latest Medicare plan is another example of GOP's desire for Medicare, as Gingrich described, to "wither on the vine."

Rep. Pete Stark (D-CA) -- a top Dem on health care issues -- lashed out: "despite Wyden's claims otherwise, the Wyden-Ryan plan ends Medicare as we know it, plain and simple."

In a statement this afternoon, Ryan said President Obama is "increasingly isolated from this growing bipartisan consensus" on Medicare: 

“I am grateful to have a partner in my friend Senator Wyden, as we work together to create space for bipartisan solutions to address our nation’s most pressing challenges.  It is disappointing to find the President of the United States increasingly isolated from this growing bipartisan consensus on efforts to save and strengthen our critical health and retirement security programs.  The President’s failure to offer credible solutions to the challenges facing Medicare is a disservice to seniors, a disservice to hardworking families, and a disservice to the next generation.  A more glaring disappointment is the President’s failure to recognize a sincere effort by a Democrat and a Republican to come together and offer solutions, betraying his own rhetoric and his own commitment to those we have the privilege to serve.  America deserves better.”

But the fight over Ryan-Wyden isn't simply left versus right. The plan has earned praise from some prominent liberals in the media. "Overall, it doesn't sound too bad," writes Kevin Drum at Mother Jones. Time's Joe Klein called the proposal a "move toward health care sanity." This morning, Ezra Klein seemed to be amazed that Wyden-Ryan would make Medicare similar to Obamacare in many ways. (Ryan's original Medicare plan did that as well, and Yuval Levin points out that these similarities do not, in fact, vindicate Obamacare. Paul Ryan has done the same in the past.)

So there definitely seems to be some tension between Democratic partisans on Capitol Hill and in the White House want to strangle Wyden-Ryan in the crib, and some liberal intellectuals who see hope in the bipartisan compromise. One has to wonder if the left will take a harsher view of Wyden-Ryan--which is similar to plans proposed by the GOP presidential candidates Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich--as the 2012 election heats up.

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