The budget plan President Obama released this morning is squarely aimed at brokering a long-term fiscal compromise with House Republicans, who have demanded entitlement cuts and other spending reductions to reduce the nation’s deficit. Obama’s budget mirrors the compromise offer he made to House Speaker John Boehner (R) in fiscal cliff negotiations, offering less in stimulus spending and revenues than he has previously sought and including reforms to Social Security that have infuriated his liberal base.
During an appearance on MSNBC’s Morning Joe, Dee Dee Myers asked House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) if Republicans would make similar concessions — perhaps on revenue or stimulus spending — that would bothperturb the GOP’s base. Ryan, however, said that the GOP’s biggest compromise was that it “put up a budget that balances”:
MYERS: You mentioned CPI. It’s something President Obama put on the table that the base doesn’t like. It’s the White House telling the people it’s a sign they’re willing to put something forth to compromise. What are you willing to put on the table that your base won’t like?
RYAN: We put up budget that balances. We’ve said here how you fundamentally restructure Medicaid, Medicare. Lots of these things. The base, we represent seniors as well. We think Medicare reform is the best way to go to save this program. There are a lot of things we’ve done. The fiscal cliff was not real popular, I would add. So we, Republicans, have already done things to move to the middle to get to common ground that have not been entirely popular. But we have not seen reciprocal moves.
A balanced budget offer is hardly a concession that moves toward Democrats and angers the GOP base, given that the party has spent the last three years chasing a Balanced Budget Amendment to the Constitution. The latest House GOP budget, in fact, balances in 10 years — faster than previous versions — because conservatives demanded it in exchange for the last debt ceiling increase. The rest of the budget, meanwhile, is a trove of conservative policy ideals. It turns Medicare into a voucher program, a priority for conservatives. It targets poverty programs conservatives regularly decry for nearly two-thirds of its spending cuts. It includes massive tax cuts aimed primarily at corporations and the wealthy. And it does all of this without making any concessions on issues like stimulus spending and revenues that would bring Democrats to the table while raising concerns among the Republican base.