It's an interesting balancing act here. The White House is attacking the Ryan-Wyden Medicare plan (quite rightfully) as "undermining" Medicare (because it does) - but it also sounds pretty similar to previous compromises offered by Obama during budget negotiations, and a lot like the Affordable Care Act. So is this the White House in campaign mode, or are they really drawing a line the president won't cross? Let's hope it's the latter:
WASHINGTON (AP) — White House spokesmen Thursday blasted a new bipartisan plan to overhaul Medicare, saying it would undermine the health care program for seniors and disabled people, leaving it to "wither on the vine."
That prompted the plan's Democratic co-author, Sen. Ron Wyden of Oregon, to fire back at the Obama administration and other critics on the left. His office said critics are misrepresenting the proposal without reading it.
Meanwhile, the campaign of GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney heaped praises on the new plan.
Wyden and his Republican counterpart, House budget chairman Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, say they're trying to tone down the political rhetoric over Medicare and start a serious national dialogue about the future of an essential program.
The Wyden-Ryan plan — still lacking cost projections and other key details — is unlikely to go anywhere before the 2012 elections, but it could serve as a marker of sorts in the political debate next year.
[...] Under the Wyden-Ryan plan, current beneficiaries and those close to retirement would get to remain in Medicare as it is now.
But the program would be re-engineered for those 54 and younger. Upon reaching 65, future retirees would have a choice between traditional Medicare and regulated private insurance plans, all competing to lower costs and provide quality care. Seniors would get a fixed amount to spend on a health plan, no matter which coverage they selected. Low-income, and older, sicker people would get more money.
The plan also would limit the overall increase in Medicare spending, holding it to no more than 1 percent above the rate of economic growth.
The White House reacted sharply. "We are concerned that Wyden-Ryan ... would undermine rather than strengthen Medicare," said spokesman Jay Carney.
"At the end of the day, this plan would end Medicare as we know it for millions of seniors," he added.
Earlier, communications director Dan Pfeiffer said in a statement the Wyden-Ryan plan would cause Medicare to "wither on the vine." Carney later repeated that same phrase at the White House news briefing for reporters.