WASHINGTON — After the fiscal cliff came the sequester, and now the budget. For the first time in four years, the Democrats in the Senate are producing a budget. House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wis., will respond with one that zeros out Obamacare.
“Yes, our budget does promote repealing Obamacare and replacing it with a better system,” Ryan said on “Fox News Sunday.”
Ryan has forged budgets over the last few years that have rallied Republicans but brought disdain from Democrats. Last Thursday, Ryan had lunch with President Barack Obama, leading to speculation that a compromise might be in the works.
"The language Ryan has been consistently using since the election," noted Sean Sullivan at the Washington Post, "suggests he doesn’t want to live in a world of constant gridlock. Time and again, Ryan has talked about the importance of recognizing the realities of divided government."
Meanwhile, Patty Murray, D-Wash., the Senate Budget Committee chairwoman, is set to release a budget for the first time in four years. The proposal is expected to tackle the sequester by closing loopholes and counting on savings from winding down the war in Afghanistan.
What it will not do, National Journal reports, is tackle entitlement reform, as recent budget memos circulating among Senate Democrats have sidestepped health care costs.
“Our budget is going to reflect the need to deal with our long-term health care costs without impacting our beneficiaries in a way that puts us in a place where people can’t sustain their own budgets at home,” Murray told National Journal.
Unlike the House, which carefully controls amendments and floor debate, the Senate has a wide-open process that lends itself to political grandstanding.
“If they choose to go down that road, then there will be equal pain on both sides,” a senior Senate Democratic aide told Roll Call.
“We are moving forward with a serious process with a budget that reflects balanced priorities,” the aide continued. “If the GOP use [the process] for political tricks then it shows they don’t have any ideas except to take political pot shots.”
Eric Schulzke writes on national politics for the Deseret News. He can be contacted at [email protected].