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GOP Turns Page to Budget Battle

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The timing of Budget Chairman Paul Ryan’s blueprint unveiling seems to be good for Speaker John Boehner.

House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan’s bold new budget blueprint could not have come at a more opportune time for Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), who will have to sell conservatives on a compromise with Senate Democrats and the White House to keep the government operating past Friday.

With the Wisconsin Republican set to release his blueprint at 10 a.m. today, the focus in Washington, D.C., will start shifting to his plan for trillions in cuts instead of the tens of billions in the marathon debate over the continuing resolution to keep the government open.

That could help Boehner convince his Conference that now is the time to cut a deal — even if it means compromising with Democrats on spending and policy riders.

“If we get to a point in the discussion where we are $3 [billion] or $4 billion apart while also talking about the other budget that will cut trillions, it should add some needed perspective to the debate,” one GOP aide said.

That’s provided they actually get a deal, which looked dicey Monday afternoon when Boehner and other top Republicans issued a flurry of statements slamming Senate Democrats.

“Despite attempts by Democrats to lock in a number among themselves, I’ve made clear that their $33 billion is not enough and many of the cuts that the White House and Senate Democrats are talking about are full of smoke and mirrors,” Boehner said.

Jon Summers, spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), sounded a hopeful note. “As we get closer to a final agreement, we are confident that in the end Republicans will reject cries from the Tea Party to shut down the government and work with us on a solution that makes smart cuts while protecting our economy’s recent gains,” he said in a statement.

President Barack Obama is set to meet with Congressional leaders today to try to clear the logjam.

If all goes well for Boehner, by this time next week he will have inked a deal with historic midyear spending cuts without the politically radioactive move of shutting down the government. And he will have promised the conservative base that there will be much more cutting to come.

GOP leadership aides said that their bosses aren’t banking on Ryan’s budget to sway lawmakers to vote for the CR, although they have moved back to earlier talking points of framing the spending debate around the CR, budget and the debt limit debate.

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