For all of Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan’s talk about Republicans needing to produce a budget with a clear vision of the party’s principles, a conservative confab in New Hampshire proved the House Budget Committee chair’s vision is far from universal.
At the Freedom Summit in Manchester, N.H., on Saturday, two of the top likely GOP presidential candidates — Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz — refused to endorse Ryan’s proposed budget or call for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to bring it up for discussion. Real-estate mogul Donald Trump openly attacked Ryan and his budget in a speech, and his remarks were well received.
Trump portrayed Ryan’s budget as shredding Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security. He warned the conservative attendees of the political peril of those positions.
“I think he’s a very nice person,” Trump said of Ryan. “But his whole stance is to knock the hell out of Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security. And the Democrats love it. They love it. They just sit back.”
The unveiling of Ryan’s budget has drawn groans from Republicans, who worried it could step on their election-year anti-Obamacare messaging. It calls for balancing the federal books over the next 10 years through repealing Obamacare and making massive cuts to Medicaid and Medicare, essentially privatizing the latter. Medicaid, under the Ryan budget, would be transformed into a block-grant program for states.
In a show of solidarity, the vast majority of Republicans voted last week to pass the budget through the House of Representatives.
However, the Senate is a different story. The Democrats who control the Senate chamber are not planning to write a budget this year, pointing to the spending levels already set through the agreement reached late last year by Ryan and Senate Budget Committee chair Patty Murray late last year. But if their reactions were any indication, Senate Republicans aren’t exactly dismayed by the fact Ryan’s budget won’t go anywhere in the Senate.
In New Hampshire, both Paul and Cruz refused to say whether they’d support the budget. Cruz, in particular, found it difficult to tiptoe around the questions, repeatedly saying he doesn’t spend a lot of time focused on House legislation.
“What my focus is on is the challenges we have ahead,” Cruz said. “My top priority in office is restoring jobs and economic growth.”
Cruz demurred when asked if he thought Ryan’s budget was the best way to do that and whether he would vote for the budget if it came up for discussion.
“It is clear that Harry Reid has no intention of passing legislation this year in the Senate,” Cruz said.
Later, it was former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee who declined to endorse Ryan’s budget. When he was asked about it, Huckabee instead noted the budgets he brought up as governor of Arkansas were generally a starting point for discussions rather than ideas that would be adopted wholesale.
However, Huckabee seemed reluctant to describe Ryan’s budget as even a positive starting point.
“It is for Paul Ryan,” he said.
What about for Mike Huckabee?
“You know, there would be some things that I would probably change,” he said.
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