The House Republican confusion over the party’s Medicare stance Thursday underscores two worries for the GOP — an often insecure, rivalrous leadership and a very bright Budget Committee chairman given to jumping ahead of his troops.
Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) paid the heaviest price, stepping on his message even before White House talks had begun. But House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) also played a part by opining publicly that it’s now unlikely that any debt deal this summer will include the wholesale Medicare changes that had been envisioned in his ambitious budget plan adopted just last month.
Adding to the pressure, the speaker said he wanted “trillions” in savings now before moving a debt ceiling increase—not just the tens of billions that paved the way to keeping the government open in April.
“What do we mean by real spending cuts? Well, in the continuing resolution we just passed, we spent $79 billion less than what the president wanted to spend for this fiscal year, $38.5 billion less in that discretionary portion of the budget than we spent last year.”
“Those are important steps in the right direction,” Boehner said. “But instead of talking about billions or tens of billions, I think it is time to start talking about trillions.”