Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, photographed on Capitol Hill last November. (KAREN BLEIER/AFP/GETTY IMAGES)

At a forum on the federal budget Thursday hosted by National Journal, Ryan said “We don’t think the generals are giving us their true advice. We don’t think the generals believe that their budget is really the right budget. I think there’s a lot of budget smoke and mirrors in the Pentagon’s budget.”

In response, Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Martin Dempsey said the Wisconsin Republican’s remarks mean the military’s top brass have failed to persuade Congress that the budget proposal is based on strategy.

Dempsey responded later Thursday during a flight back from stops in Latin America: “There’s a difference between having someone say they don’t believe what you said versus … calling us, collectively, liars,” he said, according to the Wall Street Journal. “My response is: I stand by my testimony. This was very much a strategy-driven process to which we mapped the budget.”

Dempsey added that the budget “was a collaborative effort” among top military officers and combat leaders.

The military faces $487 billion in cuts in the next decade as part of a budget deal reached last summer. The cuts reflect ongoing drawdowns in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Here’s what else is going on that you should know about:

House approves $3.5 trillion budget plan proposed by Paul Ryan (by Rosalind S. Helderman and Paul Kane in The Washington Post): “It was a dramatic departure from the night before, when lawmakers took up a plan based on the Simpson-Bowles deficit reduction proposal.”

GOP blocks Obama’s effort to end tax breaks for Big Oil (by Zachary A. Goldfarb and Brad Plumer in The Washington Post): “In fiery, campaign-style remarks delivered from the Rose Garden, Obama told lawmakers that they can ‘stand with big oil companies, or they can stand with the American people.’”

Senate bows to House to extend transportation funding for 90 days (by Ashley Halsey III in The Washington Post): “House leaders opted for a three-month extension while they try to break a deadlock that has stalled their own proposal to fund transportation by expanding offshore oil drilling.”

In new book, Arlen Specter gives the naked truth about senators (by Al Kamen in The Washington Post): “Naked senators, Dick Cheney downing fried chicken and a ‘hobo’ Fed chairman. Former senator Arlen Specter’s new book, “Life Among the Cannibals,” has its moments.”

Both Democrats and Republicans see Ryan budget as big campaign issue (by Erik Wasson in The Hill): “They know the budget is going nowhere until the November elections, and said it will take an electoral mandate to enact the huge spending cuts and Medicare changes it calls for that, GOP leaders say, are needed to rescue the U.S. from fiscal calamity.”

White House vows no recess appointments (by Scott Wong in Politico): “Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said Thursday he received assurances from the White House that the president wouldn’t bypass the Senate and install any of his nominees while Congress is out of town the next two weeks for its Easter break.”

GOP fears Latino revolt (by Manu Raju in Politico): “Key Republicans are pushing a change in rhetoric, urging Mitt Romney to shift tactics away from the strident comments he’s made during the primary season in hopes of convincing Hispanic voters that Republicans will give immigrants a fair deal.”

Conservative leader says GOP will unite behind Romney, but isn’t endorsing (by Russell Berman in The Hill): “Rep. Jim Jordan (Ohio), says Republicans will ‘unite strongly’ behind Mitt Romney if he wins the party’s nomination, though he is not ready to endorse him.”

What did we miss? Share links in the comments section below.

Follow Ed O’Keefe on Twitter: @edatpost

More from PostPolitics:

Why debt commissions just don’t work

Congress passes stopgap highway bill

Adelson: Newt ‘At the end of his line’