Sen. Wyden distances himself from Medicare plan he crafted with Ryan

Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) is trying to distance himself from the controversial Medicare plan he wrote with Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), saying Republicans shouldn't call it a bipartisan proposal.

Wyden infuriated some fellow Democrats by teaming up with Ryan, whose initial Medicare proposal gave Democrats a strong line of attack. And with Ryan's plans getting even more attention now that he's been tapped as Mitt Romney's presidential running mate, Romney is again citing Wyden's support to deflect criticism of the controversial proposal.

"This man said I'm going to find Democrats to work with. He found a Democrat to co-lead a piece of legislation," Romney said as he introduced Ryan on Saturday, referring to the Medicare proposal.

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Wyden shot back, saying Romney was "talking nonsense" and exaggerating the Medicare plan.

"Bipartisanship requires that you not make up the facts. I did not 'co-lead a piece of legislation,' " Wyden told the Oregonian. "I wrote a policy paper on options for Medicare. Several months after the paper came out I spoke and voted against the Medicare provisions in the Ryan budget. Governor Romney needs to learn you don't protect seniors by makings things up, and his comments today sure won't help promote real bipartisanship.”

Ryan's initial proposal would have entirely privatized Medicare. That plan, passed by the GOP-controlled House on a party-line vote in 2011, energized Democratic campaigns and helped propel the party to victory in a New York special election.

But this year, Ryan unveiled a new proposal, with Wyden at his side. The revised plan would give seniors a choice between private insurance and traditional Medicare. When Ryan and Wyden unveiled the policy, Democratic officials insisted that it wouldn't weaken their attacks on the Ryan budget.

They noted that one Republican, Rep. Anh "Joseph" Cao (R-La.), voted for President Obama's healthcare bill, but that the law is still seen — and attacked — as a purely partisan measure. One member crossing the aisle does not make a truly bipartisan effort, they said.

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