Tuesday, March 12, 2013

First Thoughts: Return of the Ryan budget

Ryan budget takes center stage again … Balances budget in 10 years, but he keeps ObamaCare Medicare savings while at the same time assuming the law’s repeal. But he says it’s not about the “how,” it’s about the “why.” … Bottom line: There’s not much compromise in Ryan’s budget -- and there likely isn’t much in the Democrats’ either. … Obama meets with Senate Democrats, where there will be some friction over his overtures to Republicans. … Do the politics of usual hamper the potential for a grand bargain? … CPAC starts Thursday – and the pizza vs. box will be on full display … Priebus goes to Brooklyn, as the party tries to go high tech.

By Chuck Todd, Mark Murray, Domenico Montanaro, and Brooke Brower
*** Return of the Ryan budget: For the third time in the last three years, House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan will once again unveil a budget today that conservatives will cheer, that liberals will despise, and that will kick off a debate over spending and budget priorities between the two parties. What pleases conservatives: It balances the budget within a 10-year timeframe (his previous ones waited until much longer to do that); it tackles entitlements (Medicare and Medicaid) as well as tax reform; and it isn’t shy about where it wants to take the country. What infuriates liberals: It ignores the election results from 2012 (Ryan and Romney largely campaigned on that budget last fall, especially the changes to Medicare, and lost); it cynically assumes ObamaCare’s $716 billion in Medicare cuts as a way to balance the budget in 10 years (despite Ryan saying he and Romney would restore those cuts during the campaign); and it also assumes the revenue from the fiscal-cliff tax increases (which a majority of House Republicans voted against). Ryan has an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal today about his plan. He leads off talking about the debt and emphasizes the “why” not “how” to get to a balanced budget. But bottom line: the only way Ryan got to a balanced budget in 10 years is using Obama’s tax increases and Obama’s Medicare cuts. 

Jacquelyn Martin / AP file photo
House Budget Committee Chairman Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis. leaves a Republican caucus on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, Jan. 1, 2013.

*** Flashback:
Just how much did Ryan campaign against the Medicare savings in ObamaCare, check out this from his GOP convention speech: "You see, even with all the hidden taxes to pay for the health care takeover, even with new taxes on nearly a million small businesses, the planners in Washington still didn't have enough money. They needed more. They needed hundreds of billions more. So they just took it all away from Medicare -- $716 billion dollars, funneled out of Medicare by President Obama. An obligation we have to our parents and grandparents is being sacrificed, all to pay for a new entitlement we didn't ask for. The greatest threat to Medicare is ObamaCare, and we're going to stop it."

*** No compromise:
More than anything else, Ryan’s budget is mostly unchanged from its last two -- even though he lost a national election -- and doesn’t offer a hint of compromise. (Ryan touting on FOX that he and Romney won the elderly vote in 2012 is akin to the grunge band from “Singles” saying they’re huge in Belgium.) And it raises the question as Senate Democrats prepare their own budget and as President Obama continues his charm offensive: Is Ryan capable of cutting a deal? Up until now (like on the Simpson-Bowles commission), Ryan hasn’t reached across to the other side. For all of Ryan’s talk that Obama isn’t serious about cutting the deficit/budget, it’s noteworthy that he wouldn’t COME CLOSE to balancing the budget in 10 years without two of Obama’s priorities: the health-care law and the fiscal-cliff deal. Ryan and House Republicans believe their method would lead to growth, but liberals got a boost yesterday when the Wall Street Journal reported that without cuts in the public sector, a.k.a. government jobs, unemployment would be 7.1% rather than the 7.7% where it is today.

*** Obama meets with Senate Dems: Speaking of budgets, Senate Democrats are aiming to come out with theirs tomorrow. As we’ve noted previously, it will -- incredibly -- be the first budget they’ve released in four years. It won’t be all sunshine and roses for President Obama when he meets with Democrats today at 1:30 pm ET. There will likely be a little friction and skepticism from liberals on just what the president’s up to with Republican chats on grand bargain, according to a top Capitol Hill Democratic source. Not to mention, Democrats are already second-guessing the president’s deal-making during the fiscal cliff and the Congressional Black Caucus is wondering why there haven’t been more black cabinet nominees. And it will also be interesting to see the tone the president takes on the Ryan budget. The previous two years, the launch of the Ryan budget was cause for the White House to go into full campaign mode. But given the new tone of outreach the president is setting, does the president get critical of Ryan quickly or take a different tact? And then there’s the White House reaction to the Senate Democratic budget, how fully does the White House embrace it? With their own budget coming out sometime NEXT month, how those two budgets differ will be magnified and certainly COULD be a way for the White House to signal where it will compromise and where it won’t.

*** Politics as usual comes creeping in: While there’s some hope that a deal for a grand bargain is possible, given the White House’s desire for one and the president’s reaching out to rank-and-file Senate Republicans, the campaign arms of both parties are chomping at the bit over these budgets. The DSCC will go after several 2014 hopefuls over the Ryan budget. The DCCC and House Majority PAC are out with videos hitting Republicans as well. For the GOP’s part, they are eager to (finally) get a Democratic budget they feel like they can use against them. The NRCC is raising money off Ryan’s plan, and going after several freshmen. So if this was supposed to be a week breaking out a bit of budget kumbaya, think again. The politics of usual is also setting in. Somehow to get a budget to Obama, the two parties have to merge these political documents. Merging their politics is not something they’ve been able to even come close to doing in the last four-plus years. What is fascinating is how here you have the president and several Senate Republicans (and others), who say they want to clear the brush and get a big deal. But the campaign arms are fired up this week. How much does all this impact the chance at a grand bargain? Meanwhile, keep an eye on this other political sideshow that is developing in the talking-point wars between the two parties: the battle to own the word “balance” -- balanced budget vs. balanced approach. Democrats and the White House have used “balanced approach” as a buzzword to signal that the Republicans are uncompromising. Republicans hope to use the idea of a “balanced budget” to show the Democrats aren’t serious about the debt.

*** Just say no: With CPAC beginning on Thursday, conservatives and political observers have asked this question: Are the GOP’s problems about policy or are they due to the packaging? In other words, is it the pizza or the box? But looking at our most recent NBC/WSJ poll (conducted and released last month), the problems seem to involve a combination of the two: Americans associate Republicans with negativity in both policy and the tone -- they want to stop things, eliminate them, cut them, etc. Asked an open-ended question what one or two specific things they agree or disagree with the most that Republicans in Congress are proposing, 58% answered in disagreement. And those responses were almost about a negative rather than an affirmative. Not compromising with Democrats (11%), opposing gun control (10%), not taxing the wealthy (8%), getting rid of Obamacare (7%), and reevaluating entitlement programs (6%). And even the comments from the 31% in agreement with the GOP gave somewhat negative answers instead of affirmative ones: protecting gun rights (8%), cutting spending/managing spending (8%),cutting/not raising taxes (5%).

*** What are you FOR rather than simply AGAINST? By comparison, the 49% who said they agreed with President Obama gave affirmative responses: health care (15%), better/more gun control (13%), economic policies (11%), immigration reform (7%), creating more jobs (5%), more support for education. And the 48% who disagreed with Obama also gave affirmative responses: Obamacare (18%), gun-control legislation (16%), handling of the economy (7%), and handling of immigration reform (5%). Of course, when you’re out of power -- whether you’re the Democrats or Republicans -- you’re typically opposing the party in power, so these responses aren’t all that surprising. But this does speak to the fact why Americans right now have a more negative opinion of the GOP. And as we watch CPAC, especially the speeches by potential 2016ers, it will be interesting to hear what the speakers stand FOR rather than AGAINST.

*** Reince in Brooklyn: RNC to make digital expansion: It’s no secret that the Republican Party was walloped in two key areas in 2012 – with minorities and technology (especially with behavioral analytics). There was evidence yesterday that the Republican National Committee is taking steps to address both. RNC Chair Reince Priebus went to Brooklyn, NY, yesterday, where he met with black Republicans. And later in the day, NBC’s Sarah Boxer reported that the party is planning a major digital overhaul after it releases its autopsy of the 2012 election Monday.

*** Bloomberg soda ban blocked: The New York Times: “A judge struck down New York’s limits on large sugary drinks on Monday, one day before they were to take effect, in a significant blow to one of the most ambitious and divisive initiatives of Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg’s tenure. … The decision comes at a sensitive time for Mr. Bloomberg, who is determined to burnish his legacy as he enters the final months of his career in City Hall, and his administration seemed caught off guard by the decision.” Bloomberg said yesterday he would appeal. The New York Post goes for “Pour it on.” How many “soda/pop/coke” (whatever you want to call it) will there be at CPAC now…?


The Ryan budget is part of the problem that republicans can not win elections. Take away from the working class in order to protect the richest in the land from having to pay their fair share of supporting this country and its government. They make their money here, they get rich on the backs of the American worker and have gotten even greedier as the conservative movement dies. If the republican part were serious about deficit reduction and a balance budget they would accept that this country has been starved by their continued use of supply side economics which has always failed, and austerity measures that are failing in Europe instead of a more moderate approach over a number of years that includes taxing the rich their fair share.

54 votes#1.1 - Tue Mar 12, 2013 9:06 AM EDT

Bill, Fairfax VA

The Fatal Flaw of "Compromise"

Why can't we all just get along? Why can't reasonable folks on either side of an issue find some common ground in the middle and come to an agreement that moves the country forward? And why oh why is it always those darn Republicans who dig in their heels and refuse to give an inch, thereby perpetuating government dysfunction? Maybe because "compromise" isn't quite what it's cracked up to be.

When the middle ground of "compromise" produces an outcome that requires folks on both sides to abandon deeply cherished principles, then "compromise" will not happen. To the contrary, when men and women of principal are in power they will exercise that power in a manner consistent with their beliefs and not concede an inch –thus, no one in the Obama administration would even consider waterboarding a bad guy. By the same token, a principled opposition will reject any "compromise" that forces an abandonment of their own most deeply held beliefs. The result is a middle ground that is virtually nonexistent.

This is exactly the situation we are in today regarding the issue of fiscal policy and the proper role of government in our society. Republicans fundamentally believe the national debt is leading us to fiscal disaster, a debt driven by unsustainable spending by a nanny state government that breeds dependency and erodes incentives for self-reliance. Democrats, of course, don't see the world that way at all and have firmly resisted even the slighest reductions in government spending. From the perspective of each side, there is no dishonor in standing firm on their respective principles. Indeed, the dishonor would lie in capitulating to untenable demands. Thus we have Paul Ryan preparing a budget that balances within ten years with no tax increases, while Patty Murray has a budget that NEVER balances even with a boatload of tax increases.

Which brings me to Obama and his shameless portrayal of Republicans as being intransigent and unwilling to "compromise." Apparently it's OK for Democrats to stand on principle when they resist calls for entitlement reform, but it's not OK for Republicans to stand on their own principles and resist calls for even more taxes. Consider this: 107 House Democrats have signed a letter to Obama threatening to vote against "any and every cut to Medicare, Medicaid or Social Security benefits – including raising the retirement age or cutting cost of living adjustments." How is this digging in their heels approach is any different from Republicans who have signed Grover Norquist's no tax pledge? The answer is there is no difference, both approaches are based on deeply held beliefs advocated by the respective parties. Yet Obama and an accommodating MSM consistently spin this story to paint the Republican side as the only bad guy in the room.

The fact of the matter is the notion of "compromise" in today's climate is nothing more than a club Obama is using to try and gain political advantage over Republicans. So the next time you hear the president and his pals in the MSM castigate Republicans for their refusal to deal, remember that when "compromise" makes a mockery of principle it is equally distasteful to both sides, Democrat as well as Republican. Just ask Patty Murray. Realistically, the only way out of this standoff is for one party to have control of both the Congress and the presidency and thereby be in a position to shape policy without need for "compromise" -- just like Obama did in his first two years with health care and financial reform,

That's why the 2014 midterm elections are looming as critically important to our future. And that's why every word and deed from Obama needs to be closely parsed from the perspective of 2014 politics – particularly his blatantly self-serving and thoroughly disingenuous representations of "compromise."

15 votes#1.2 - Tue Mar 12, 2013 9:06 AM EDT

Pat Boston-7793618

The Republican Party has for many years now steered our nation in the wrong direction, because of their own selfish priorities. They are no good at governing. What they are good at is being mouthpieces for the very wealthy by making up lies. Their lies have hurt a great deal of people and will continue to hurt a great many people. Most of the nation realizes it now and it's why the democrats won in November. Most of the nation does not want the GOP's policies.

The wealthy/right wing media for years have used the middle class to exploit the poor and working classes. I hope those days are over. I really do. It's up to President Obama and Congress to listen to US and not to those who have no idea of what they're talking about. The madness has to end. Now.

All the so-called msm we have had throughout the years didn't stop what their job was to stop. Government/corporate America exploitation of the American people. They failed the most vulnerable Americans miserably over the years.

I hope the media, Democrats and President Obama see this, written by Michael Tomasky:


... The Washington Post's editorial page, Alan Simpson, Erskine Bowles, Alice Rivlin, and all the other folks who go around insisting that the budget deficit is our biggest problem.

It's not. Jobs are still are our biggest problem. As Paul Krugman documented in his Monday column, the deficit is actually decreasing quite rapidly. It's still high. But it's tumbling down. And one thing that will make it tumble downward even further, of course, is putting more people to work, spurring more economic activity, leading to more investment and spending.

And one thing that will make it tumble downward even further, of course, is putting more people to work, spurring more economic activity, leading to more investment and spending. The February jobs numbers were great, but a 7.7 percent unemployment rate is still too high. That's what we need to be attacking.

Obama needs to take some steps toward bringing it down even more. But he can say that while also saying, and saying forcefully: I will not hop on the deficit hysteria bandwagon. I still believe the most important order of business for me is to create more jobs, first for the obvious reason that we want more people working and second because a stronger economy will lower the deficit more quickly and reliably than anything else. So yes, I want to get the deficit under long-term control, but I'm the president, I was reelected handily, and no combination of people is going to bully me into accepting their agenda or timetable.

Obama can't spend the last three years of his presidency playing ball on Paul Ryan's home field. That's a recipe for political weakness and policy disaster. This is the week to draw his line in the sand and tell the deficit-hawk establishment who's in charge.


The beach erosion going on up here is very sad to see. Very sad.

45 votes#1.3 - Tue Mar 12, 2013 9:10 AM EDT

Beverly in Chicago

Good Morning fellow libs all nice comments this AM.


Does Paul Ryan think he is now Captain Marvel because wants to take credit for including $600 billion in new revenue in his budget which he and other republicans accused President obama of stealing? I still chuckle thinking of batty eyed Michele Bachman screeching... "We know that President Obama stole over $500 billion out of Medicare to switch it over to Obamacare."

Michele Bachmann on Monday, September 12th, 2011 in the CNN/Tea Party Express debate in
He shouldn't. He is prepared to reveal for the umpteenth time his iteration of repealing Obama Care in his budget today. He shouldn't bring that forward either. Repealing Obamacare is one reason Paul Ryan is not VP today. The American people spoke in the 2012 election. Paul Ryan has been all over the political landscape with Obamacare cuts.
When “Obamacare” passed Ryan put them in his House-passed budget plans in 2011 and 2012, then he campaigned against them in the 2012 election. Now he is backing them again in his new budget plan which he revealed on “Fox News" Sunday and was smacked down by Chris Wallace.
Futhermore, it's been revealed House Republicans Can’t Explain How Obama’s Policies Got Into Paul Ryan’s Budget .

Uh Oh!!

Paul Ryan's budget explains why President Obama’s balanced approach is the only way to go.

Howevver, Paul Ryan's acting like Captain Marvel , along with the GOP, and the Tea Suckers think their very, long, angry, caterwauling, years of vehement denunciations have given then an imprimatur on a budget that is based on President Obama’s policies.
Keep wanting to raising more taxes for the rich and lowering the expectations of the Right ever becoming a relevant political party; Paul Ryan, GOP, and you Tea Suckers!!!!

If Paul Ryan should receive any lightning bolt moment, it should be only to enlighten him into realizing he is "A Big Red Cheese".

35 votes#1.5 - Tue Mar 12, 2013 9:14 AM EDT

David Walker

What the hell is the matter with this guy? He's like the neighbor kid who keeps poking sticks at a dog. The dog is only going to take so much. You tell the kid to stop it. You tell him at some point the dog is going to tear him apart. That is a perfect analogy for what Paul Ryan is doing with Obamacare.

Obamacare is not going to go away. The fact is the alternative to Obamacare is to stand by as people get sick. To tell them to just hurry up and get better. To tell them to go to an emergency room they can't begin to afford. To tell them to die. Dammit Paul, stop poking the stick at us. We're going to bite.

Ryan doesn't have a budget proposal. What he brings is more proof that he does not grasp arithmetic. Stop with the nonsense. Stop pretending he's some sort of numbers whiz. He is not. He's putting finger paint - or worse - on the walls.

He has a ten-year proposal. Really? And in that 10-year period, Congress is going to follow every one of his fantasy proposals? President Obama is going to sign a repeal of Obamacare? There will be no emergencies, no national disasters, no possible changes that Brainiac Boy hasn't considered? The economy is going to grow. Old folks will stop getting sick and their insurance premiums will go down. And gold will fall from the sky.

Enough! This is nonsense. Paul Ryan flatly does not know what he is talking about and then he has the nerve to say he did his part. It's up to the President to overdose on the same drugs Ryan is using and we'll all float off to La-la Land. NO MORE. STOP IT! SHUT UP!

Give us a realistic one-year budget. Give us something that can get through the Senate and the President will accept. Deal with the damned facts. We are running a deficit and we need revenues. You don't get new revenues by cutting revenues. Paul. Hello, Paul, anybody home. You don't get more by getting less.

You cut defense spending. You overhaul entitlement programs. You cut waste and inefficiency, and yes, we know it's not as easy as it sounds. You stop using the tax code to reward your friends and to promote social change you like. You tax the rich. NO, Paul. REALLY. You tax the rich. They don't create jobs. They just take money from those who can least afford to give it to the rich.

I'm not kidding Paul. Stop poking us with sticks!

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