House Budget Committee chair Rep. Paul Ryan was on Fox News Sunday to preview his new budget. There weren’t any big surprises when it came to his budget plan, but the big takeaway is that he treated the idea of running for president in 2016 as a very plausible possibility.
Asked by Chris Wallace whether his experience as Mitt Romney’s vice presidential running mate made him think differently about what it would take to be on the trail for two years as a presidential candidate. Instead of deflecting the question, Ryan went on at length about what a positive experience it was to be a national candidate.
“Actually, I enjoyed the experience,” Ryan said. “It made it more realistic in my mind.”
He said he and his wife Janna were talking about this the other day. “We look back at it as a very positive experience. We actually enjoyed it. We got to meet hundreds of thousands of people who care so much about their country. We learned a lot, just about the greatness of this country. How hard-working people want to get ahead and make a difference. So I actually found it a very pleasant exercise to be candid with you.”
Also, though he wouldn’t close the door on presidential speculation beyond saying he doesn’t want it to cloud his current aims to tackle the nation’s debt burden, he ruled out the idea of ever serving in House leadership emphatically.
As for the preview of his budget, it was consistent with what I reported last Friday, though Ryan provided more details.
Ryan said he would balance the budget within a decade by making use of the new revenue generated from the tax hikes in the fiscal cliff deal, which now count as current law. He would also extend the budget caps that were put in place by the 2011 debt ceiling deal by another two years and reform government pensions to help bring projected spending down further.
Overall, he said that his budget would cut projected spending by $5 trillion over 10 years, from around $46 trillion to $41 trillion. However, actual spending would still increase by an average of 3.4 percent per year.
As with his previous budgets, he would save money by block granting Medicaid to the states and repealing President Obama’s health care law while also assuming the same level of Medicare savings. In addition, his budget would again transition Medicare into a system in which seniors receive subsidies to choose among competing private Medicare plans or the traditional program. The subsidies would vary by income and health status, so the poorest and sickest beneficiaries would receive the highest subsidies while the wealthiest and healthiest would receive lower subsidies.