House Republicans’ FY 2013 budget resolution passed in March 228-191, with 10 Republicans voting against it. And Ryan’s drive to avoid fiscal ruin a la Greece has earned due respect from GOP lawmakers in the upper chamber, as well, where Democrats haven’t adopted a budget in more than 1,200 days.
“I served with Paul Ryan in the House and have a tremendous amount of respect for him,” said Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.). “He understands that America cannot afford to continue to go down a path of record debt and deficits, and he has real solutions to get our nation back on a path of prosperity.”
Though not much gets done in Congress after recess and before the presidential election anyway, the Budget Committee will be missing its leader as Republicans and Democrats in both chambers will be trying to avert the budget sequestration with devastating defense cuts and will be fighting over the extension of the Bush-era tax cuts.
The senior Democrat on the panel, Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), said he gets along well personally with Ryan but sees attack ground in his “Path to Prosperity.”
“Look, I work with Paul Ryan. We get along very well personally. We have very tough and spirited debates, but they’ve always been civil debates in the budget committee,” Van Hollen said on MSNBC. “Look, there’s plenty to go on with respect to the ideas in terms of a target-rich environment, because when you dig down deep in the Ryan budget, it really is bad for the vast majority of the country.”
Vice-chairman of the committee is Scott Garrett (R-N.J.). The panel hasn’t met since it marked up the Sequestration Transparency Act of 2012 on June 27; that passed Congress and was signed by the president last week.
The familiarity of script in battling Ryan’s budget plan gives Democrats a head start as they fight against the Ryan-Romney ticket. But the plans of a vice presidential candidate have greater national traction than inside-the-Beltway policy skirmishes that don’t garner much interest past the Potomac.
Last year, as part of the “Mediscare” campaign attempting to discredit Ryan’s proposal to reform the entitlement program, a liberal PAC released an infamous TV ad showing a Ryan doppelgänger pushing a wheelchair-bound granny off a cliff. In the Republican primaries, presidential hopefuls were asked what they thought of Ryan’s budget plan. Romney says he has his own budget plan, but it’s his running mate’s that will be the topic on the campaign trail.
Opponents will also be blaming Ryan for the actions of the Republican caucus as a whole, like the farm bill that wasn’t brought to the House floor before Congress left for the summer recess.
“Unfortunately, right now, too many members of Congress are blocking the farm bill from becoming law,” Obama told a crowd in Council Bluffs, Iowa, today. “…So if you happen to see Congressman Ryan, tell him how important this farm bill is to Iowa and our rural communities.”
Ryan’s budget proposal cuts food stamps by more than twice the reductions in the Senate’s farm bill.
It highlighted how the nomination of a House member to the national ticket could breathe new life into Obama’s refrain that Republicans in Congress are a do-nothing bunch who need a to-do list.
House Republicans, though, are confident that even middle-of-the-road voters will look at the record of what the budget chairman has been doing in Congress and come away with a positive impression.
“He has more good ideas about breakfast than most people have in their entire career,” said Rep. Randy Forbes (R-Va.) on CNN. “What most independents are looking for, they are tired of this these political attacks and want new government ideas.”
“That’s what Paul is going to bring to the table,” Forbes added. “I think it’s going to excite them.”