As Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., plans to unveil his new budget next Tuesday, the House Budget Committee chairman said he had spoken this week with President Barack Obama, who's been ramping up outreach to congressional Republicans.
Ryan told Capitol Hill reporters on Wednesday that he had recently spoken to Obama by phone, though the former Republican vice presidential nominee declined to divulge specifics from the "confidential" conversation. Ryan said he told Obama that "we need to prepare for the retirement of the baby boom generation in this country to save these programs, for not just for the current retirees but for the next wave of retirees after that."
President Barack Obama's calendar is getting full – he's having dinner with Republican senators Wednesday night and is requesting more meetings with House and Senate Republicans on the Hill next week. Rep. Chris Van Hollen, D-Md., discusses.
The call from Obama would seem to fit with the recent charm offensive for Republicans being waged by the White House. The administration confirmed Wednesday that Obama would address the House and Senate GOP conferences next week, and the president will dine this evening with a handful of Republican senators.
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Despite the recent conversation with the president, Ryan still took the opportunity to slam him for the Obama administration's own delay releasing its own budget.
"I find it interesting that he's chosen to blow the deadline again — not by a week or two, but for a indefinite period of time," he said. "The White House ought to lead, that's what presidents do. A delay does not show seriousness of purpose."
The Wisconsin congressman's remarks set the stage for this spring's budget battles; the House and Senate have each vowed to produce and pass a budget as part of an agreement last month to extend the nation's debt limit through mid-May. While that's expected to be a hard-fought debate, Ryan insisted he had "hope" both sides could "start talking to each other and start solving these problems."
The new House GOP budget will be unveiled on Tuesday of next week. Ryan declined to outline hard numbers from his fiscal blueprint, explaining that those will be revealed when the budget is formerly introduced. Though he's pledged his new budget would balance the U.S. books by 2023, Ryan said there would not be big differences between this year's budgets and past budgets he has produced.
"It doesn't take enormous changes in our budget to get there and you'll see what they are," Ryan said.
Democrats have used those past budgets, though, against Republican lawmakers who eventually vote for it. The first budget produced by Ryan in 2011 and its proposed reforms to Medicare became a lightning rod during the 2012 campaign, both on the presidential campaign trail and in scores of House and Senate races. Democrats will carefully comb through Ryan's new budget for any additional provisions of controversy, though Republicans will also be able to pore over the budget that Senate Democrats will have to produce this spring.
One concrete detail offered by Ryan was that the new GOP budget would not rely upon a budget baseline that does not count as savings either the draw down of the war in Afghanistan, or less disaster aid once the Hurricane Sandy relief is paid.
"We're not going to be in Afghanistan for 10 more years…we had a huge hurricane, biggest one since '05, are we going to have a hurricane like that every year? CBO says so in their baseline," the budget chairman explained.
The Congressional Budget Office projects the cost of current programs for the next decade, Ryan's argument is that Democrats can't count the reduction of those programs as savings when they will know they will not exist within 10 years.
This story was originally published on Wed Mar 6, 2013 1:42 PM EST