WASHINGTON – The constituent anger over the GOP-approved blueprint to erode Medicare is enough to make any Republican squeamish, but the latest sirens of concern come from an unlikely source: Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN).
The tea party darling, an unabashed supporter of hard-right causes, took to the conservative blog RedState.com on Thursday to sound off on the tax-cutting virtues of House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan's (R-WI) proposal -- and then she reminded people how much she values Medicare, the government-run, single payer health insurance program for seniors.
"I supported that budget blueprint, though I've expressed caution about how we approach the issue of Medicare," Bachmann wrote. "We must keep our promises to those who receive Medicare benefits, and those who are nearing the age of Medicare eligibility. Our challenge is to reduce the soaring amounts that government spends on health care, without burdening those who are most vulnerable."
The words are a notable departure from the traditional Republican talking points about the Ryan proposal. GOP lawmakers from top to bottom have insisted the privatization plan will "save" Medicare, and that the new "premium support" subsidies will leave seniors with health insurance plans that are as good as what members of Congress enjoy (a disputed claim).
That's why it's significant that Bachmann -- one of the staunchest opponents of bloated government programs -- would stray from the party's selling point and publicly advise "caution" on how Republicans deal with Medicare, implying that there may be something problematic about the Ryan plan.
A spokesman for the congresswoman did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Bachmann has hinted at a 2012 presidential run.