For a candidate who is not even in office yet, Romney’s Medicare plan is attracting a lot of attention from leaders of congress. Just last week, Senators Richard Burr (R-N.C.) and Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) joined the growing ranks of conservative leaders who have co-sponsored legislation supporting Romney’s Medicare plan.
The media, preferring to focus on “RomneyCare” and how it relates to “ObamaCare,” has largely omitted any discussion of Romney’s achievements on Medicare reform. Romney’s success in crafting a workable plan to reform Medicare has been an unrecognized and significantly under-reported topic in the mainstream media.
As you may recall, Romney’s Medicare reform plan is to give seniors more options on where they can purchase medical insurance by allowing seniors to choose between traditional Medicare or purchasing private insurance with government vouchers. Such a plan would introduce greater competition among insurance companies but also allow seniors to craft health care plans that are more customized to their specific needs.
Sens. Burr and Coburn liked that idea so much they were willing to attach their names to it by co-sponsoring legislation supporting the idea. Sens. Burr and Coburn also adopted Romney’s proposals on how to reduce the cost of Medicare by gradually increasing the age when seniors are eligible to receive Medicare and by requiring the richest seniors to pay more of their health care expenses than the poor.
Recently, Paul Ryan (R-WI) and Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) also teamed up to co-sponsor Romney’s idea on reforming Medicare. Paul Ryan’s endorsement of Romney’s proposal sends a powerful message to Republicans who might wonder how conservative Romney is on health care reform given Romney’s key role in passing RomneyCare. If Paul Ryan, who is one of the most influential and popular conservatives in Washington, is co-sponsoring Romney’s proposals on Medicare reform, then conservatives in general can trust Romney on this issue.
But the fact that a Democratic Senator, Ron Wyden, also co-sponsored the bill is quite impressive. The Ryan/Wyden bill reveals an important aspect about how Romney creates political goals: namely, that Romney creates bold ideas that are also practical and workable. Romney is not a politician with his head in the clouds, dreaming up “fantasy legislation” that appeals only to one side of the political sphere. He’s a pragmatic conservative who understands the realities facing America, whether those realities are economic or political, and can work within those realities to get things done.
It is important to remember that these leaders in congress who are co-sponsoring Romney’s plan aren’t just expressing vocal support for Romney’s Medicare reform plan. They are taking their support to the highest level by co-sponsoring actual bills that use Romney’s proposals. Any one of Romney’s rivals for the Republican nomination would kill to have Paul Ryan and three other U.S. Senators co-sponsoring legislation about their ideas.
So, in order to get a more complete and accurate picture of how conservative Romney is on health care issues, we must look not just at RomneyCare but also Romney’s Medicare reform plan which is garnering a host of endorsements and co-sponsors from the most respected and popular conservatives in Washington.