Next week, House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wis., will unveil his FY 2013 budget. Like last year’s “Path to Prosperity,” this year’s House budget will also include sweeping entitlement reform, including the expansion of the premium-support model in Medicare. But that will not be the most controversial part of Ryan’s budget this year.
Thanks to Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., Ryan has bi-partisan support for his Medicare reforms, which are now solidly mainstream ideas. The real drama in this year’s budget will be over the overall spending levels Ryan sets for the next 10 years. Conservatives, like Sen. Jim DeMint, R-S.C., want far less spending than was included in last years plan. DeMint has even said he may not support the Ryan budget if it does not balance in 10 years.
But Democrats believe they have a deal with Republicans to keep spending at the exact levels agreed to in last August’s debt-limit agreement. “This wasn’t a handshake, it was a law we passed,” Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., told reporters Tuesday. “If they renege on the law, the agreement, they’ll be forcing yet another government shutdown and a fight with the American people. That’s ridiculous,” Reid finished.
Reid’s threat is a bit comical. Senate Democrats have not passed a budget in over three years. There is no danger of them passing a budget this year, either. However, whatever budget Ryan does pass through the House this spring will be the starting point for negotiations over the actual spending bills this summer. Reid may think the August debt-limit deal is “law” but it really is no more binding than the budget Ryan passed through the House last year. The actual appropriations bills are what determine how much the federal government spends, and the framework Republicans agreed to last August was not such a bill. Republicans believe all that agreement did was set an upper bound for future spending plans. We’ll see how much Ryan wants to cut, next week.
Romney: Romney had another rough interview with Fox News yesterday, this time facing tough questioning from Megyn Kelly about statements he made in 2008 in support of an individual mandate.
Santorum: Republican presidential hopeful Rick Santorum told Puerto Ricans on Wednesday they would have to make English their primary language if they want to pursue U.S. statehood, a statement at odds with the U.S. Constitution.
Gingrich: Gingrich is officially no longer running to become the 2012 Republican presidential nominee. The Washington Examiner‘s Byron York reports that he is now running to deny Romney from getting to 1,144 by the end of the GOP primary season in June. “Our goal first is to keep Romney well below 1,000,” Gingrich spokesman R.C. Hammond said.
Around the Bigs
The Wall Street Journal, Doctors Struggle to Make Ends Meet: Thanks to Obamacare regulations, the consulting firm Accenture projects that, by 2013, only around a third of doctors in all specialties will own their own practices, down from about 43% in 2009 and nearly half in 2005.
The Washington Post, Senate reaches deal on judicial nominees: Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid, D-Nev., and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., announced plans to confirm 12 federal district court nominees and two circuit court nominees by early May. Democratic aides said that seven of the nominees should be confirmed by the Easter recess in April, four more by a recess scheduled in early May and the final three immediately after that break. In exchange, the Senate will begin debate on a jobs bill passed by the Republican-controlled House.
The New York Times, Jobs Bill Stalls as Congress Fights Over Agency: Conservative opposition to the Export-Import Bank is holding up Senate consideration of the House JOBS Act. Democrats want to renew the agency’s authority before it expires in May. Conservatives believe the program is unnecessary corporate welfare.
The New York Times, Senate Passes 2-Year Transportation Bill: The Senate easily approved a two-year, $109 billion transportation and infrastructure bill on Wednesday, putting pressure on House Republicans to set aside their stalled version and pass the Senate’s before the federal highway trust fund expires at the end of the month.
Fox News, UN rights council delves into US voter I.D. laws: The United Nations Human Rights Council is investigating the issue of American election laws at its gathering on minority rights in Geneva, Switzerland.
The Wall Street Journal, Eurogroup Approves Second Greek Bailout: Euro-zone countries signed off on Greece’s second bailout program Wednesday, but talk of a third Greek bailout has already begun as a new European Union report predicts, at best, stagnation through 2013.
Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, talks to The Heritage Foundation about his fight against Obama’s illegal recess appointments.
Center for Security Policy President Frank Gaffney says it is time for Newt Gingrich to drop out of the race.
At The Corner, Veronique de Rugy explains why renewable energy subsidies will not lower gas prices.
The Huffington Post covers Planned Parenthood’s efforts to raise money off of Romney’s statement that he wants to “get rid of” Planned Parenthood.
Mother Jones‘ Josh Harkinson looks at Occupy Wall Street supporter Ilya Sheyman’s primary campaign against New Democrat Coalition candidate Brad Schneider.
Slate‘s David Weigel defends Energy Secretary Steven Chu’s desire to see gas prices rise: “Conservatives read this and accuse Chu of anti-freedom collectivist thinking. They are not wrong: This is a central planner’s dream. It’s the theory of a scientist who works in densely populated northern California, not of someone who has to commute to work 30 minutes every morning in some exurban sprawl, and can’t easily move to an ideopolis.”