“We have a sequester kicking in on March 1, a continuing resolution [on the budget] expiring on March the 27. We have budgets that, if the Senate decides to do its job this year, will come out in April,” Ryan said Wednesday at a breakfast with reporters. “These are the kind of points we think force the kind of conversation we think we have to have.”
When a reporter asked why Republicans would consider shutting down the government when the brinksmanship of the past two years has put the congressional approval rating in the teens, Ryan shot back: “So, we don’t have much to lose, do we? This is not about politics and what makes us popular. This is about what is the right thing to do.”
The breakfast, hosted by the Wall Street Journal, marked just the second time the Wisconsin Republican has met with reporters since he and GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney lost their bid for the White House in November. Wednesday’s far-ranging session covered topics ranging from Ryan’s hopes for immigration reform to his disappointment with his seating assignment on Inauguration Day – which left him in the bleachers with other lawmakers instead of standing up front in Vice President Biden’s spot.
“I was about eight rows behind” where he had hoped to be, Ryan joked.
On gun control, Ryan tacitly chastised the National Rifle Association for a much-maligned TV ad focused on the president’s daughters.
“Our kids are out of bounds,” Ryan said. “The Obama campaign [and] the national media respected that of my family, and we’re grateful for that. Our kids ought to be out of bounds.”
But for more than an hour at the Mayflower hotel downtown, the questions focused primarily on strategy in the coming year, when Republicans say they hope to force Obama and other Democrats to agree to even sharper cuts in government spending and to tackle a wholesale overhaul of federal health programs.
The bill under consideration in the House Wednesday would suspend the nation’s borrowing limit until May 18 to give each chamber of Congress breathing room to adopt a budget blueprint. Ryan, who will again draft the GOP budget, said he would eliminate deficits within the next decade, although he offered no guidance on how his plan would meet that goal. His past budget proposals took nearly 30 years to achieve balance, even after slashing Medicaid and social safety net programs, which is completely unacceptable to Democrats.