Third Way to Chairman Ryan: “Strike Two”

Statement from Third Way Vice President Jim Kessler on Chairman Ryan’s 2012 Budget

April 05, 2011

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“House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan’s budget is a deep disappointment. There is a serious framework on the table for a bipartisan deal on our long term budget crisis. It’s the Bowles-Simpson blueprint, now being turned into legislation by the Gang of Six. It puts everything on the table – a specific plan to save Social Security, significant defense cuts, large reductions in tax expenditures and reforms to make Medicare and Medicaid more efficient, not eliminate them. That is the only game in town. Instead of stepping up, taking on the ideological purists in his own party and embracing this framework, Chairman Ryan ducked it.

“In short, this isn’t budget bravery. Real courage is Republicans like Senators Saxby Chambliss and Tom Coburn admitting the need for additional revenue to solve the deficit problem. Real courage is a Democrat like Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin supporting specific entitlement cuts that anger his base. Real courage is the 64 Senators who wrote to the President and congressional leaders that the Simpson-Bowles proposal is the essential place to start on the deficit.

“This is Chairman Ryan’s second opportunity to move the fiscal debate towards a bipartisan, common ground set of solutions – the only hope of controlling our debt. The first time up he swung and missed – voting ‘NO’ on Bowles-Simpson as a Commission member. Unfortunately his 2012 budget is another whiff at bat, as he knows full well that there is no chance that Congress will block grant Medicaid, voucherize Medicare, or cut the top income tax rate to 25-percent.

“For Chairman Ryan, this is strike two – a real setback to getting a centrist deal through the House. As a center-left organization that has aggressively called for putting everything, including entitlements and revenue, on the table to tackle the debt, Third Way hopes that when the next opportunity comes around – as the Congress and White House turn later this year to negotiating a bipartisan 2012 budget deal – that Mr. Ryan won’t strike out.”

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