Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) delivered a wonky speech to the Conservative Political Action Conference on Friday, just a week after releasing the latest version of his House Republican budget.
The 2012 GOP vice-presidential nominee argued that the government's record debt is a sign that it is doing too much. But he also sought to allay concerns that Republicans will simply cut indiscriminately.
"We don’t see the debt as an excuse to cut with abandon, to shirk our obligations," Ryan said. "We see it as an opportunity to reform government, to make it cleaner and more effective. That's what conservatives stand for."
Democrats have attacked Ryan's budget, particularly for its provision turning Medicare into a voucher program. Americans generally balk at any changes to entitlement programs.
Some Republicans, meanwhile, would like to cut even more than Ryan and balance the budget faster, including Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) -- like Ryan a potential 2016 presidential candidate -- and some conservative members of the House.
Ryan's budget aims to balance the budget in the next decade. Senate Democrats also released their own budget proposal last week, spearheaded by Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.).
Ryan did take time to criticize the Democrats' budget, using some one-liners playing off the election of the new Roman Catholic pope.
"This has been a great week. We got white smoke from the Vatican, and we got a budget from the Senate," Ryan said. "But when you read it, you'll find that the Vatican is not the only one blowing smoke this week."