Wyden again pulled into campaign politics

WASHINGTON, DC - SEPTEMBER 22: Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., during the markup of the committee's version of a health care reform bill. (Photo by Scott J. Ferrell/Congressional Quarterly/Getty Images)


by Pat Dooris

Bio | Email | Follow: @PatDoorisKGW


Posted on August 14, 2012 at 4:47 PM

Updated Tuesday, Aug 14 at 8:28 PM

Republicans were on the talking points bright and early Tuesday morning, reminding the public that Republican vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan worked with Democratic Oregon Senator Ron Wyden to try to overhaul Medicare.

Newt Gingrich, who campaigned for the Republican presidential nomination, raised the issue on "Today."

“He worked with Senator Ron Wyden," he said of Ryan. "It’s important to remember, the only bipartisan proposal to save Medicare for the long run is the Ryan-Wyden plan."

But that's not exactly what Sen. Wyden would call it.

“My sense is this is a conscious strategy on the part of some of the surrogates," he said Tuesday.

Wyden said he did work with Ryan on a white paper to reform Medicare, but that Ryan and House Republicans used the ideas to develop a budget plan that Wyden later spoke out against and voted down.

“It just would have been devastating for the low-income seniors,” said Wyden.

He spoke at Portland’s rotary club Tuesday, warning about the danger of draconian budget cuts at the end of the year if Republicans and Democrats don’t work together. But as he has seen time and time again, there is a price for bipartisanship.

“There is no question that there is a cost to the effort to try to find some common ground. I personally think it’s worth it," Wyden said.

Ron Tammen, a former congressional insider and now head of the Hatfield School of Government at Portland State University, said political parties no longer cooperate as they once did.

“Compromise ruled, it was the coin of the realm. And today compromise is anathema. It’s the death knell to legislation," Tammen said.

Tammen pointed out that in the past, each party had both a liberal and conservative wing. Law makers with an idea had to compromise and win support within the part and then compromise with the other party to get the idea into law. Now, he said, both parties require absolute loyalty only to the party and its ideology.

“You fail that test if you cooperate with somebody from the other party or you reach out and compromise with the other party. You need to keep to your ideological purity to be accepted by the members of your own caucus," Tammen said.