Skeptics within the GOP ranks simply didn't think Democrats in Congress would ever give in on this point. "The Democrats will never give up this issue ahead of the '12 elections and the Ryan plan will never be enacted while Barack Obama is president," said one Republican Congressional Insider. Echoed another, "The Democrats won't bargain away their No. 1 campaign issue, especially with all indications pointing to a stagnant economic recovery."
And one Republican acknowledged that the Democratic opposition to the Ryan plan is probably unshakable. "It's an honest, proven solution but Democrats are too far out on their demonization limb to allow it," said one GOP Congressional Insider.
At the same time, another suggested that the proposal was becoming a political liability for the party. "Our vulnerable members are already pushing back," said a GOP Congressional Insider. "The only one who can explain the plan is Paul Ryan."
But several Republicans maintained that the Ryan plan, or something like it, was necessary to deal with the deficit and debt. "Medicare reform will be part of any emerging agreement. Doing nothing will lead to bankruptcy and benefit cuts," said one Congressional Republican Insider. "Medicare has to be part of the solution and Ryan's proposal is a good starting place," said another.
Others thought that without substantial changes to Medicare, a debt ceiling agreement will not produce large enough budget savings to gain House GOP support. "Some type of Medicare reform must be part of any deal; otherwise you simply can't make the numbers work that would be acceptable to the House Republicans," said one GOP Congressional Insider.
Democrats said that the party would simply never accept converting Medicare to a voucher program. "Mr. Ryan's plan to end Medicare is a complete non-starter," said one Democratic Congressional Insider. "It goes against everything the Democratic Party stands for."
And other Democrats said to give in on this issue would betray what the party stands for. "If Democrats agree to end Medicare--and that is what Ryan does--then we should just give up," said one Democratic Congressional Insider. "Any Democrat who agrees to this will be tarred and feathered," vowed another.
The National Journal Congressional Insiders Poll is a regular anonymous survey of Democratic and Republican members of Congress.Want the news first every morning? Sign up for National Journal's Need-to-Know Memo. Short items to prepare you for the day.