A Roadmap Not Taken?
Republican freshmen hesitate to embrace Paul Ryan’s budget plan.


Robert Costa

A “wholesale endorsement” of the roadmap, Duffy adds, is likely not forthcoming: “I have not heard a swell of support saying, ‘Let’s go endorse Paul’s roadmap.’”

Cantor, the House majority leader, brushes back the idea that House Republicans are wary of Ryan. But he, like the others, is not championing the roadmap as the House GOP budget strategy. Instead, he tells NRO, the leadership is encouraging Ryan to craft a flinty budget for the remainder of the fiscal year. By addressing Washington’s discretionary-spending levels first, Republicans, Cantor argues, can “demonstrate that we are serious about cutting spending and getting our debt under control.”

Beyond that, things get a bit murkier, but Cantor does see an opportunity for aspects of the roadmap to become policy. “I am supportive of the direction that Paul is headed,” he says. Still, he cautions, “as you know, the budget is something that is [scored] within the budget window for the next ten years. I’m hopeful that we can get elements of what Paul is aiming for incorporated.” Regarding entitlements, however, the roadmap really takes hold beyond that point.

In an interview at his committee office, Ryan acknowledges that convincing his colleagues to back the plan in its entirety will be an uphill climb. “Look, I never said this was a take-it-or-leave-it plan,” he points out. But he remains hopeful: “My sense is that Republicans see the world differently than they did a few years ago.”

House Democrats, freshly in the minority, sense an opportunity to needle Republicans. “They are caught between their rhetoric and reality,” Rep. Barney Frank (D., Mass.) notes in an interview with NRO. “Ryan is legit on this, but I don’t think the rest of them are. Maybe that’s partly why they gave him this power — so they can hide behind him.”

Rep. Anthony Weiner (D., N.Y.) echoes that line. “Republicans like to point to Ryan as their thought leader but appear to be deeply ambivalent about his thoughts,” he muses.

For House Republicans, the plan presents a straightforward choice: a detailed party line on bloated entitlements, or a roadmap not taken.

Robert Costa is a political reporter for National Review. Andrew Stiles, a Franklin fellow, contributed to this report.


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