When House Republicans unveil their 2012 budget on Tuesday, they are expected to include a Medicare privatization plan endorsed by one Democrat — Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR). That, Republicans will claim, proves their controversial overhaul proposal has bipartisan support.
Leading Democrats say they won’t let the GOP get away with it.
“We don’t see a difference in principle between the original Ryan plan and the so-called Wyden-Ryan plan,” Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) a party surrogate on health care issues, told reporters on a conference call Monday morning. “It’s equally bad or only marginally different but still would end Medicare as we know it.”
The return of the budget wars coincides with the two-year anniversary of President Obama’s health care reform law, and Supreme Court arguments over whether that law is constitutional. It means Democrats are for the first time simultaneously attacking the GOP’s Medicare plans and robustly defending the health care law — including its new and growing benefits for Medicare patients.
The Republican goals of repealing the health care law in its entirety, and phasing out the existing Medicare program and replacing it with a subsidized private insurance system, would roll back these and other benefit guarantees.
Democrats will be ramping up the campaign in the days and weeks ahead to remind seniors — and other health care law beneficiaries — of this major distinction between the parties.
“They [seniors] don’t want Medicare itself to be diminished in some way,” Schakowsky said, “or to become too expected and therefore ruined.”
Brian Beutler is TPM's senior congressional reporter. Since 2009, he's led coverage of health care reform, Wall Street reform, taxes, the GOP budget, the government shutdown fight, and the debt limit fight. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.