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Senator Ron Wyden (D., Ore.) and Representative Paul Ryan (R., Wisc.)


Deroy Murdock

‘Governor Romney now owns the Republican, Ryan budget that puts millionaires ahead of Medicare and the middle class,” House minority leader Nancy Pelosi of California recently snapped.

“By picking Representative Paul Ryan, Governor Romney has doubled down on his commitment to gut Social Security and end Medicare as we know it,” Senate majority leader Harry Reid of Nevada snarled.

Pelosi and Reid know better. The Medicare-reform proposal of presumptive GOP running-mate Paul Ryan is precisely as extreme as the health plan available today to every member of Congress. Ryan envisions average seniors’ being able to enjoy Capitol Hill–style medical options. This itself, however, would be a choice. Seniors who oppose choice in health coverage will be 100 percent welcome to remain within traditional Medicare. 

Ryan’s “far-Right” Medicare reform is co-sponsored by Senator Ron Wyden, an Oregon liberal Democrat (2010 Americans for Democratic Action rating: 100 percent). Unlike most Democrats, Wyden understands that if Medicare continues to traverse today’s path, by 2024 it will tumble into a canyon.

“Paul Ryan shares my belief that we don’t hold election certificates to sit on the sidelines, and that the only way to tackle some of the big challenges facing our nation is to work together on big solutions,” Wyden said as he and Ryan (2010 ADA rating: 0 percent) unveiled their legislation last December. “Paul has also long shared my view that the best way to hold down health costs is to give all Americans the ability to hire and fire their insurance company.”

Wyden-Ryan would do just that, although no time soon.

“Americans currently over the age of 55 would see no changes to the structure of their benefits,” their bill summary states. “Starting in 2022, Medicare would begin offering seniors a choice among Medicare-approved private plans competing alongside a traditional Medicare plan.”

So, Democratic horror stories about Republicans catapulting today’s seniors off cliffs prove to be lies. If the GOP ticket wins and Wyden-Ryan is signed into law, Medicare benefits will not change for a decade. If Romney and Ryan lose, however, seniors soon will feel the pain of President Obama’s diversion of $716 billion from Medicare into Obamacare.

Ten years hence, Wyden-Ryan would let Medicare recipients request “premium support” payments. As Wyden and Ryan explain, “that would empower seniors to choose either a traditional Medicare plan or a Medicare-approved private plan.”