Wyden reached out to Ryan, and the two drafted a compromise Medicare reform proposal, which would keep traditional fee-for-service Medicare for seniors who prefer it. Wyden-Ryan also added consumer protections and catastrophic coverage.
For his troubles, Wyden was branded a "useful idiot" by New York Times columnist Paul Krugman.
President Obama released a statement praising the bipartisanship of Sen. Olympia Snowe, R-Maine, after she announced her decision not to run for re-election because of Washington's climate of partisan polarization. Democrats love to moan about the ugly partisanship on the right, while they turn their backs on their Olympia Snowe, Ron Wyden.
The Ryan plan promises tax reform by simplifying tax rates so that there are two rates, 10 percent and 25 percent, and paying for the reduction by aggressively eliminating loopholes, tax deductions and other tax expenditures. Unfortunately, the Ryan plan does not specify what those aggressive reductions would be.
Ryan has shown Wyden-like courage in pushing for Medicare and tax reform -- and not backing down while lesser Republicans flinched from difficult reforms. (Remember when Newt Gingrich dismissed Ryan's Medicare as "right-wing social engineering"?!) Though I would love to take Ryan at his word that the GOP would cut popular deductions, I lack faith in the party's rank and file.
Then there are voters, who have gotten used to hearing that they shouldn't have to pay for the government they've elected. Obama promises more government -- and only the rich should have to pay for it. It's an impossible scheme.
Ryan has been right to call the administration out for offering only "debt, doubt and decline." He presents a strong opening bid for reform. But his plan will not work without resolve. And that's as rare a commodity as courage and bipartisanship in Washington.