Just when the town halls are starting to get interesting, is John Boehner leaving Paul Ryan and his vouchercare plan hanging? Meanwhile, Harry Reid is preparing to hang the rubbery plank over the side of the Senate ship, for Republicans to walk on.
It wasn’t long ago that 235 members of House Speaker John Boehner’s caucus voted to make the Paul Ryan “path to prosperity” budget plan their own. But now that those members are catching hell at town halls in their districts, is the speaker, who former Speaker Nancy Pelosi warned Republicans was leading his flock over a cliff, grabbing a branch while everyone else falls into the canyon?
This not at all definitive statement to ABC News seems to indicate that Boehner is indeed gripping a branch:
“Paul Ryan has an idea that’s certainly worthy of consideration in terms of how do we — how do we do this in a more efficient way?” said Boehner, R-Ohio.
“I’m for it,” Boehner continued. “It’s our idea. Right? It’s Paul’s idea. Other people have other ideas. I’m not wedded to one single idea, but I think it’s — we have a plan.”
An “idea?” Really? I thought it was the official House plan… and so did lots of other people, including political reporters:
It’s not the first time Boehner has called the Ryan plan just an idea “worth considering” — he used almost the exact same language shortly before the House began its debate on the plan.
But his comments provoked a different reaction now that the House has approved the plan — and now that rank-and-file Republicans are trying to sell it to their constituents. Ryan himself was explaining his plan Tuesday at town hall meetings throughout his district.
The group Americans United for Change, which has been running ads against Ryan and other Republicans who voted for the budget, quickly circulated Boehner’s comments in an email chiding the speaker: “Sorry Speaker Boehner, there’s no ‘take-backs’ or distancing from this one — you and the 224 other House Republicans that voted for the Ryan plan for turning Medicare into Coupon Care now own it.” …
… Ryan’s office didn’t respond to requests for comment, but Boehner spokesman Michael Steel insisted the interview wasn’t intended to back off of his support for the Ryan plan.
“Boehner strongly supports the House Republican Budget put together by Chairman Ryan,” Steel said. “If others have options that would preserve Medicare and Medicaid and put us on a path to pay down the debt, he’d love to see them. Thus far, the president has not offered such a plan.”
Whatever the status of Ryan’s plan in John Boehner’s world, over in the Senate, it looks like majority leader Harry Reid may be preparing to make even more Republicans own it:
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid may hold a vote on the House Republican’s budget proposal after all. His office announced Tuesday that Mr. Reid is considering a vote as a way to force moderate Republicans to take a position on the Medicare overhaul plan. The measure would surely fail in the Democratic-controlled Senate. But it would likely put some Republicans in an uncomfortable position.
“He’s considering a vote, but hasn’t made a final decision,” Reid spokesman Jon Summers wrote in an email to Washington Wire. Lawmakers return to Washington next week.
UPDATE: Sam Stein of the Huffington Post just tweeted that Senator Harry Reid will indeed hold a vote on Paul Ryan’s budget plan.