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Congress: Skeptical

Paul Ryan seems skeptical of President Obama’s outreach. And perhaps President Obama should continue to be skeptical of Ryan. The Hill: “Rep. Paul Ryan: House budget will assume the repeal of ‘ObamaCare’.”Ryan on FOX: “This is what budgeting is all about. It’s about making tough choices to fix our country’s problems. We believe ‘ObamaCare’ is a program that will not work.”

But President Obama might have an ally in Tom Coburn, with whom he was friends as a senator. Coburn said the problem is Senate leadership, per The Hill. Coburn said: “The Senate's not nearly as dysfunctional as it's made out to be, because there's great relationships in the Senate. Our problem in the Senate is the leadership in the Senate, not the members in the Senate.”

He said on “Meet the Press” yesterday: “I think the president is tremendously sincere. I don’t think this is just a political change in tactic. I think he actually would like to solve the problems of the country. I think he’s got a great chance to accomplish a big deal.”

For John Boehner, the GOP’s problem is also the box, not the pizza. Here he is in an interview with Roll Call: “Our principles — things like freedom and responsibility — are eternal, but we’ve got to do a better job of articulating those principles.”

Boehner wouldn’t address if he’ll retire by 2014 or before, but did say, “I’m far from done.”

Passing a budget is hard, Democrats are finding. The Hill: “Senate Democrats say they will soon pass their first budget in four years, but it is proving a test. Disputes over tax cuts, spending reductions and entitlement reform all present challenges to Budget Committee Chairwoman Patty Murray (D-Wash.) and Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.).”

“Democrats and Republicans on the Senate Budget Committee say they hope to keep the focus during this week’s expected marathon markup on setting a sound course for the country’s fiscal future,” Roll Call reports. “Though such issues have dominated the national political conversation since 2008, this week marks the first time in four years that members will actually debate a budget resolution, with proceedings expected to kick off Wednesday.”

“Members of Congress are now posting their stock transactions online on a regular basis to comply with a law enacted 11 months ago to curtail illegal insider trading by lawmakers and their staffs,” USA Today notes. But there’s always a loophole… “No lawmakers or staffers have been cited for violating the act, but one senior congressional staffer said a few colleagues who had been frequent stock traders have switched to mutual funds, which are exempt from the new requirement. Some brokerages issue reports to customers quarterly rather than monthly, adding to the difficulty of complying with the STOCK Act.”

The Hill: “Congress struggles to entice states to report mental illness for gun checks.”

Roll Call dubs Dean Heller “Senator Squatter”: “Staffers for Sen. Dean Heller have been bullying other senators’ aides to protect the Nevada Republican’s space in the Russell Senate Office Building, CQ Roll Call has learned. As part of the biennial Senate office lottery, junior members are obligated to show their office suites to more senior members, who then have 24 hours to decide whether to claim that space as their own. Heller’s office suite — which he inherited after the scandal-fueled resignation of Sen. John Ensign, R-Nev. — may be particularly attractive to other senators because its floor plan includes a larger-than-average member office.”