While some in the media have been trying the Ryan-Wyden bipartisan medicare proposal as a capitulation on the part of both parties, that’s not how lawmakers on Capitol Hill see it. In fact, GOP Senators were generally supportive of the effort, while Democrats seemed rather begrudged.
“I think it holds a lot of promise, I really do,” said freshman Sen. Rob Portman (R., Ohio), adding that he had spoken with Paul Ryan about the plan earlier in the day. “I think there’s a potential to get Republicans and Democrats together on something that actually addresses the key spending problem.”
Democrats like Sen. Sherrod Brown (D., Ohio), however, felt differently. “I think it’s the same warmed-over privatization of Medicare,” he said. “[Ryan] found a Democratic sponsor, good for him, but it still — this whole idea of privatization, privatizing the turnpikes in Ohio, privatizing Social Security, privatizing the prison system, privatizing the postal service — one of two things happen. Either they shift costs so private companies can make money on this, because they’re not more efficient — private insurance is not more efficient than Medicare, private pensions aren’t more efficient than Social Security — so they either shift costs to the beneficiaries or they cut benefits and wages to workers. I mean, that’s what privatization always is, bar none, and it’s a bad idea.”
Brown said he thinks the plan will be dead on arrival in Congress.
Sen. Ben Cardin (D., Md.) was similarly hesitant about the plan. “I always worry about a voucher program, a premium support program, because I worry about the cost being shifted to the beneficiaries and not really bringing down costs,” he told NRO. “I know they have a medical inflation rate on their premium support, but I would like to see how that works.”