Florida Tea Party Leader Trashes GOP Plan to Privatize Medicare

The chairman of the South Florida Tea Party bashed Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan’s Medicare privatization plan in an email to fellow “Tea Party Patriots.” Everett Wilkinson’s blistering critique — that voters hate Ryan’s proposal to replace government-provided healthcare for seniors with a voucher program and “Republicans will lose” if they support it — was first reported by George Bennett at the Palm Beach Post:

Wilkinson broke with much of the tea party movement last week when he sent an email that calls the Ryan plan a “public policy nightmare” that could lead to “huge Democratic wins in 2012.”

Such tea party favorites as U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, U.S. Rep. Allen West, R- Plantation, and presidency- seeking House Tea Party Caucus Chairwoman Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., have voted for the Ryan plan.

But Wilkinson, in a Thursday night “Dear Patriots” email, says that in the upcoming fight over raising the national debt ceiling, “Republicans will lose if they support the Ryan Medicare plan. Americans do not support the Ryan plan.” If Democrats make big gains in 2012, Wilkinson’s email says, “Expect the GOP to then blame the Tea Party for losses.”

This sounds both like a defensive political gesture–to avoid tarnishing the Tea Party as insistent on political losers when it comes to policy–and a bit like someone going off the reservation. After all, Wilkinson was among the few Tea Party leaders to urge the GOP to steer clear of divisive social issues after the midterm elections.

In this case, perhaps the abundant senior population in his area has led Wilkinson to think Republicans and Tea Partiers are willing to drop Ryan’s budget, but the extremely strong showing it made in the House — where it passed in April — makes it easier for Republicans to pretend that voters like it. [The Palm Beach Post]

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