Late last week, the Washington Post reported that House Majority Leader Rep. Eric Cantor (R-VA) backed away from the most divisive part of the Republican budget plan, the effort to end Medicare as we know it by transforming it into a privatized voucher program with limited benefits. Although Cantor’s office has denied the Post report, other Republicans, including Sens. Rob Portman (R-OH) and Lamar Alexander (R-TN) have been reluctant to embrace the budget plan. Perhaps most troubling for backers of the so-called “Ryan Plan,” Ways and Means Committee Chairman Rep. Dave Camp (R-MI) has said he will not bring up the bill in his committee.
Freshman Rep. Mick Mulvaney (R-SC) is a rising star in the GOP who has made a name for himself on budget issues. A strong proponent of the Republican budget, Mulvaney told ThinkProgress last Friday that he is determined to see the GOP carry the “separate bills through committees” to “put the Ryan plan in place.” Asked about reports of reluctance by his colleagues, including Camp and Cantor, Mulvaney was undeterred. “I’m hoping they do what they said,” Mulvaney told us:
MULVANEY: I’ve heard a lot of things. I know what leadership told us Thursday, which was that as we move into discussion of the debt ceiling, the Ryan plan is the plan, and that everything is still on the table. We’re not taking Medicare off, we’re not taking Medicaid off. Really seriously, if you’re serious about balancing the budget, you have to be serious about entitlement reform. [...]
FANG: Do you think they will move it through all the relavant committees to bring it to fruition as a serious proposal?
MULVANEY: I hope so! Listen, you and I both know the only way to put the Ryan plan into place, the policies, is to move those separate bills through committees. So I’m hoping they do what they said.
ThinkProgress attended one of Mulvaney’s town hall meetings last month, where he gave a presentation on the Ryan budget to a small audience in Florence, South Carolina. Although the crowd that day was largely receptive to Mulvaney’s message, the same could not be said in nearly identical town halls across the country. Republicans, from Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) himself, to lawmakers from as far south as Florida and as far north as New Hampshire, have faced a backlash because of toxic elements of the GOP plan, which cuts taxes on the rich, lowers the corporate income tax rate, and radically diminishes Medicaid, in addition to ending Medicare. Even Tea Party firebrand Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) has refused to endorse the Medicare-ending provisions of the plan (which she voted for) recently.
While Mulvaney, who has been picked by GOP leaders as a spokesperson on budget-related issues, remains committed to the plan, it is still unclear if his colleagues will sustain the same wherewithal to slash services for the poor and elderly.