ABC News’ Rick Klein reports:
Despite anger that’s erupted at town-hall meetings in districts across the country, Republicans are standing by their support for House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan’s spending plan – including the controversial proposal to phase out Medicare for those who are now under 55 years of age.
On ABC’s “Top Line” today, Rep. James Lankford, a freshman Republican who serves on the House Budget Committee, chalked up the anger to “organized efforts” by liberal groups to try to embarrass Republicans, and said “the majority of people that I’ve talked to” support the Ryan budget.
“I haven't had any second thoughts on passing the Ryan budget at all,” Lankford, R-Okla., told us. “What's funny is people are throwing out statements, questions like, ‘It's radical,’ ‘It's extreme. It's all this crazy stuff. You're throwing the elderly out on the street.’ If they actually stopped and read it rather than listening to all the hype, they would look at it and go, ‘Well, that's not all that radical.’ ”
“I don't have any second thoughts,” Lankford continued. “And there are some organized efforts that are here in Oklahoma just like there are all around the country. There are Moveon.org and multiple groups have been sending out e-mails here saying, show up at the town hall meetings and raise Cain and ‘protect’ signs and all those things…”
“In reality, the majority of people that I've talked to have said that this looks like a very reasonable plan for a program that is going insolvent in the days to come.”
The reaction to the Ryan budget has been a lesson in how Washington works, Lankford said.
“I'm not spooked about it at all. What I’m interested in is really how Washington works,” he said. “It's funny, I see now why people don't put out big ideas, because every time you throw out a big idea everybody is going to demagogue it. They're going to call it what it's not, and then try to get to stop moving forward on it.”
As for one of the next big battles, Lankford said one of the strategies being discussed surrounding the debt ceiling would have Congress authorize only a relatively small increase, to force spending questions to come to the fore again soon if sufficient cuts aren’t made to federal spending.
“There are a couple different strategies being talked about. One is keep it low and so we can come back repetitively and keep this in check. And the other one is do a larger piece,” he said. “Obviously the president doesn't want to face the Congress that much and so he wants a bigger one. Congress is willing to say, you know … let's only do it a little bit a time. We'll have to see where we land.”
And Lankford said he’s opposed to President Obama’s push to repeal tax subsidies that go to oil and gas companies.
“If we repeal those subsidies now, we'll watch the gas prices increase even more again. This is not solving the problem,” he said.
Watch the full discussion with Rep. James Lankford HERE.
We also checked in with Time’s Jay Newton-Small on the budget debate as well as the timing of President Obama’s release of his birth certificate – a sequence of events that left Donald Trump cheering, and Sarah Palin mostly on the sidelines.
Watch that segment of “Top Line” HERE.
UPDATE: After this blog posted, a spokesman for the House Budget Committee contacted ABC News to take issue to the way Ryan's budget proposal was characterized.
“The House-passed FY2012 budget saves Medicare," said Conor Sweeney, the committee spokesman. "The proposal makes no changes to those in or near retirement, and provides a strengthened, personalized Medicare program for future generations. The proposed reforms in this budget – The Path to Prosperity – provide future generations with access to the same kind of system Members of Congress now enjoy for their health security. Contrary to demonstrably false partisan attacks, this budget saves Medicare, spending more each and every year on this critical program, and providing additional support to seniors with low-incomes and deteriorating health conditions.”