House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan’s financial blueprint will likely pass the House this week, but resistance from conservatives reveals a growing distrust of GOP leaders when it comes to deficit reduction.
Unlike the Wisconsin Republican’s proposed fiscal 2012 plan, which became a proud rallying cry for conservatives and passed among the group with near- unanimous support, Ryan’s fiscal 2013 budget has been received with some coolness.
That comes despite the fact that this year’s budget contains many of the same principles — namely changing how entitlement programs such as Medicare are administered — and works off the same $1.028 trillion baseline that last year’s Ryan budget designated for fiscal 2013.
The resolution barely passed out of committee last week, with two Republican freshmen — Reps. Tim Huelskamp (Kan.) and Justin Amash (Mich.) — voting against it because it did not cut deeply enough. Other Republicans voted for it despite being on the fence.
The trend indicates a new normal among the most conservative Republicans: No amount of budget cuts is enough.
Members of leadership have downplayed the significance of the resistance in committee. Republican Conference Chairman Jeb Hensarling, for instance, said he thinks the measure will be successful on the House floor.
“I think there’s wide enthusiasm for it, and I think you’ll see it in the vote,” the Texan said.
But the fact remains that many freshmen and tea party conservatives are more skeptical of Ryan’s budget than they were last year. So what has changed?
As far as the freshmen go, Rep. Mick Mulvaney said, “We’ve changed.”
The South Carolina Republican, a Budget Committee member, was part of the charge to lower the budget’s topline number. Under the Budget Control Act of last year, that was to be $1.047 trillion.
“Maybe we heightened our expectations for what we wanted to have out of this budget,” he said. “If we had gone along with the exact same budget as last year, that wouldn’t have been good enough. We should be improving every single year.”
Republican naysayers Reps. Walter Jones Jr. (N.C.) and Ron Paul (Texas) voted against Ryan’s budget last year, joined only by Reps. David McKinley (W.Va.)and Denny Rehberg (Mont.), who cited concerns over the Medicare changes.
This year, they might have company.
Rep. Steve King (Iowa), who is still mulling his floor vote, said some resistance stems from Republicans being told to fall in line because there would be future budget cuts.
When Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) negotiated the Budget Control Act with Democrats with a $1.047 trillion spending cap, many conservatives felt betrayed.
Vice President Joe Biden waits to conduct a mock swearing-in ceremony with Sen. Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, in the Capitol's Old Senate Chamber, December 2, 2014. Schatz was sworn in to serve the remainder of his term since he was appointed to the seat after Sen. Daniel Inouye, D-Hawaii, passed away.