Republicans: Ryan plan must be bolder

The Washington Times Weekly - - Politics - BY SETH MCLAUGH­LIN

Re­turn­ing to a new post­elec­tion re­al­ity on Capi­tol Hill, House Republicans say Rep. Paul Ryan will continue to be a ma­jor player with their cau­cus af­ter his failed bid as Mitt Rom­ney’s run­ning mate, but that the bud­get he pushed through the House the past two years no longer does enough to clean up the na­tion’s fis­cal mess.

As Republicans take stock of their de­feats in an elec­tion that at times was de­fined by Mr. Ryan’s bud­get, con­ser­va­tives say the House Bud­get Com­mit­tee chair­man’s next spend­ing blue­print will have to be bolder in or­der to deal with a fed­eral gov­ern­ment that con­tin­ued to plunge deeper into debt.

For his part, Mr. Ryan, bow­ing to po­lit­i­cal re­al­i­ties of the elec­tion, last week told his home­town news­pa­per, the Mil­wau­kee Jour­nal Sen­tinel, that the deck is stacked against his bud­get blue­print sur­viv­ing the di­vided Congress that vot­ers sent to Wash­ing­ton.

“It’s clear we have a coun­try that is di­vided among a num­ber of is­sues,” Mr. Ryan said. “We thought that the best thing for the coun­try is to get ahead of our fis­cal prob­lems. We of­fered spe­cific so­lu­tions. It didn’t go our way. So ob­vi­ously we’re dis­ap­pointed by that.

“We’re not go­ing to be able to fix this coun­try’s fis­cal prob­lems along the way I thought we should have. Whether peo­ple in­tended it or not, we’ve got di­vided gov­ern­ment.”

For the first time since suf­fer­ing the only elec­toral loss of his po­lit­i­cal ca­reer, Mr. Ryan re­turned to Wash­ing­ton last week and re­ceived a stand­ing ova­tion Nov. 14 dur­ing a closed-door meet­ing of the House Repub­li­can Con­fer­ence.

Af­ter­ward, law­mak­ers said the elec­tion has en­hanced Mr. Ryan’s stand­ing as a fis­cal power bro­ker.

“He is prob­a­bly our best spokesper­son for how se­ri­ous the fis­cal sit­u­a­tion is and what needs to be done to rem­edy it — to put us back on a path that we can ac­tu­ally sus­tain,” said Rep. Jim Jor­dan, Ohio Repub­li­can and chair­man of the Repub­li­can Study Com­mit­tee, the con­ser­va­tive cau­cus in the House.

“I think all of us were im­pressed with how Paul han­dled him­self on the cam­paign trail. So I hope he is right in the mid­dle of it, and my ex­pec­ta­tion is that he is king to be.”

Mr. Jor­dan said that the Ryan bud­get is “1,000 times bet­ter than what Democrats have put for-

Mr. Jor­dan, Mr. Huel­skamp and oth­ers, though, also said the Ryan bud­get is a “min­i­mum” start­ing point be­cause the na­tion’s that gets us there be­fore we go off the fis­cal wa­ter­fall.”

Mr. Ryan has writ­ten two bud­gets that passed the House

“He is prob­a­bly our best spokesper­son for how se­ri­ous the fis­cal sit­u­a­tion is and what needs to be done to rem­edy it — to put us back on a path that we can ac­tu­ally sus­tain,” said Rep. Jim Jor­dan, Ohio Repub­li­can and chair­man of the Repub­li­can

Study Com­mit­tee, the con­ser­va­tive cau­cus in the House.

ward,” while Rep. Tim Huel­skamp, Kansas Repub­li­can, said the Ryan bud­get re­mains the “only rea­son­able, sen­si­ble so­lu­tion that has been on the ta­ble.” fis­cal pic­ture has wors­ened. “We can­not sur­vive eco­nom­i­cally even go­ing down that path,” said Rep. Steve King, Iowa Repub­li­can. “I am go­ing to be look­ing for an RSC with­out a sin­gle Demo­cratic vote, only to die in the U.S. Se­nate.

Both of the plans aimed to keep tax rates low and slash spend­ing, in­clud­ing to the na­tion’s en­ti­tle­ment pro­grams — So­cial Se­cu­rity and Medi­care, the big­gest driv­ers of fed­eral spend­ing.

In his lat­est plan, called the “Path to Pros­per­ity,” Mr. Ryan called for Medi­care to be re­shaped into a voucher­like pro­gram for se­niors, and slash Med­i­caid spend­ing while block grant­ing it to the states. He also called for deep cuts to dis­cre­tionary spend­ing pro­grams.

As a re­sult, Mr. Rom­ney’s se­lec­tion of Mr. Ryan sent a mes­sage to the party’s con­ser­va­tive base that the GOP ticket was ded­i­cated to shrink­ing the size of the fed­eral gov­ern­ment.

The Obama cam­paign, mean­while, pounced on the pick, warn­ing that the Rom­ney-Ryan bud­get plan would “end Medi­care as we know it” and force se­niors to pay more for their in­sur­ance cov­er­age.

Exit polls from the pres­i­den­tial elec­tion sug­gest the at­tacks worked, as more of the vot­ers sur­veyed said they trusted Pres­i­dent Obama more when it came to han­dling Medi­care, while Mr. Rom­ney held a slim edge over who is best equipped to han­dle the deficit and the econ­omy.

In his in­ter­view with the Jour­nal Sen­tinel, Mr. Ryan said Congress is go­ing to have to find a way to work across party lines “be­cause these fis­cal is­sues are get­ting worse, not bet­ter, be­cause of time.”

“I’m very wor­ried about our econ­omy. I’m ex­tremely wor­ried about our debt,” he said, adding, “I do want to be part of the so­lu­tion.”

AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Back on the Hill: Rep. Paul Ryan

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