Left not too excited about this new Paul Ryan/Ron Wyden Medicare alliance

Ryan’s original plan (which explicitly phased out traditional Medicare) has become the gold standard of conservative entitlement reform, and has dragged GOP presidential primary contestants far to the right on the issue. This plan relaxes that standard, and gives the candidates some breathing room in the general election. Wyden’s blessing doesn’t hurt either (“even liberal Democrat Ron Wyden supports my Medicare plan.”)…

It’s unclear what if anything Wyden gains politically out of teaming up with Ryan. The move will infuriate other Democrats, all the way up to President Obama, who has been preparing a national campaign that emphasizes — not obscures — the contrast between the parties’ different visions of the social safety net.

Obama and Wyden have clashed before. Wyden’s support for Obama’s health care law was premised in part on the inclusion of something called the Free Choice Act, which would have given employees the choice of foregoing employer-sponsored insurance and receiving instead a voucher to go buy coverage on the individual market in state-based insurance exchanges. The provision survived the bill, drawing the ire of both labor and business trade organizations. But it was smothered in the crib about a year later. Obama traded it away to Republicans during the government shutdown fight. This plan would resuscitate it.