In 2011, Oregon's Democratic Sen. Ron Wyden and I offered ideas to reform Medicare. We had different perspectives, but we also had mutual trust. Neither of us had to betray his principles; all we had to do was put prudence ahead of pride.(Briefly lapses into W.C. Fields impression) Ahhhhh, yessss. (Regular voice resumes) This was one of Ryan's previous scams, and he still hasn't learned that I Found A Sucker isn't a demonstration of bipartisan problem-solving. The Ryan-Wyden plan, which would have mixed private plans with a Medicare "public option," thereby blowing a hole in the Medicare guarantee, attracted the support of exactly nobody and went exactly nowhere. (In fact, to this day, it's hard to see what Wyden ever got out of the deal.)
I liked to think, then and now, that this unforced error by Wyden is attributable to: (1) his not having kicked the “senatorial courtesy” fetish that made him never turn down a photo op invitation with Oregon's then-Junior senator Gordon Smith, whether Smith was sticking to Bush like the skin on a weenie or desperately trying to put daylight between himself and Bush as re-election time grew near; (2) his evident and lingering disappointment that his Healthy American Act had been overwhelmed by events, including Obama's health care plan, to which Wyden's HAA was in some ways superior; combined with (3) a desire to stay relevant in the health care conversation.
Whatever the reason, it was inevitable that Senator Wyden's move would accomplish nothing he wanted as far as policy goes, while handing Ryan a free ticket to claim his plan to eliminate Medicare enjoyed “bipartisan support.” And it certainly left a lot of dents in a lot of desks that perfectly matched the foreheads of a lot of Oregon Democrats.