What Are the Cuts in the Ryan Deal?

by Jonathan Strong

As details begin to leak about a small budget deal struck by Representative Paul Ryan and Senator Patty Murray, House conservatives are anxiously awaiting to hear what cuts will be included in the package.

A number of reports have said Ryan and Murray have agreed to increase spending above sequester levels, and Politico reported that part of that hit to the budget baseline would be offset by increasing government fees. But nothing has emerged at all about what the cuts will be, and Ryan is keeping the details tightly under wraps.

“The goal’s always been, if you’re going to push discretionary up in FY 14 and FY 15, you have to achieve greater savings within the budget window — the typical ten-year budget window. [That means] real long-term savings that are going to put us on that path to balance. We have to look at it and see if it does that, but that’s been the goal. We don’t know any specifics,” says Representative Jim Jordan, a former chairman of the Republican Study Committee.

Representative Steve Scalise, the current RSC chairman, says in return for increasing sequester spending conservatives will be looking for substantial reforms to entitlement spending, citing Medicare “premium support” as an example of such reform.

“If anything’s going to happen on sequester, the savings in mandatory-spending programs would have to be at least that amount if not greater in order for it to work,” he says.

The lack of details is clearly making some Republicans anxious. “I’m concerned,” says one Republican member. Speaker John Boehner and other House leaders did not discuss the matter in a specific way at the conference meeting yesterday. 

Among House Republicans, there seems to be a split in expectations about how realistic a Ryan–Murray deal really is. Many leadership aides and other senior officials are optimistic, while rank-and-file GOP aides and members are more pessimistic and expecting a continuing resolution to bridge another congressional divide.

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