By MICHAEL FALCONE and AMY WALTER
Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wisc., believes he’s found the country’s “Path to Prosperity,” and with a budget proposal he is set to unveil this morning, Ryan is blazing a trail as a multi-trillion dollar budget cutter.
His plan would slash $6.2 trillion in spending over the next 10 years from president’s budget. That’s $2 trillion more than the plan proposed by the president’s debt commission. It also reduces deficits by $4.4 trillion and, as Ryan writes in a Wall Street Journal Op-Ed this morning, “puts the nation on a path to actually pay off our national debt.”
“Congress is currently embroiled in a funding fight over how much to spend on less than one-fifth of the federal budget for the next six months. Whether we cut $33 billion or $61 billion — that is, whether we shave 2% or 4% off of this year's deficit — is important,” Ryan writes in the Journal. “But this morning the new House Republican majority will introduce a budget that moves the debate from billions in spending cuts to trillions. America is facing a defining moment. The threat posed by our monumental debt will damage our country in profound ways, unless we act.” http://on.wsj.com/gWCyJp
ABC’s Jonathan Karl notes that Ryan says his plan would save money by changing the Medicaid system, ending corporate welfare, privatizing Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and reducing discretionary spending below 2008 levels. And, over the long term, the GOP plan would transform the nation’s Medicare program, changing it from a government-run system that pays health bills for seniors into a system where seniors buy insurance plans subsidized by the federal government. http://abcn.ws/hJybAd
As Ryan unveils his budget blueprint at 10 a.m. today, it’s worth watching how his fellow Republicans react, especially those who want to occupy 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue just a couple of years from now.
Many of these White House hopefuls have been quick to criticize the president on his tentative approach to tackling the deficit. And, they are also desperate to appeal to the Tea Party types who will play a critical role in the nominating process.
That said, the risks of embracing the “third rail” — tackling entitlement programs — are also obvious. More important, warns one Democratic strategist we talked to, the debate over the debt ignores the fact that voters are much more concerned about improving the economy than they are at reducing the deficit.
"I think the Republicans are making the same mistake with Medicare that the Democrats made with health care in 2010 — it's all about jobs. You could argue, as the president did, that health care and Medicare reform will improve the economy, but that is a 'bank shot' for most voters.”
“If I were a Republican strategist,” this Democrat said, “ I'd worry that Ryan is focused too much on the means — deficit reduction — and not enough on the ends–a growing economy."
SHUTDOWN SHOWDOWN: ONE WEEK EXTENSION? Meanwhile, Congressional leaders meet at the White House Tuesday morning to try to strike a short-term budget deal. ABC’s John R. Parkinson and Jonathan Karl report that in an effort to buy congressional negotiators an additional week to make headway on a long-term resolution on spending, the House Appropriations committee released a one-week Continuing Resolution that would cut $12 billion over the next week while also funding the Pentagon for the rest of the fiscal year. When asked last night whether time was running out on Congressional negotiators to cut a deal to fund the government, Rep. Hal Rogers, R-Kentucky, the Chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, told reporters: “We have a meeting tomorrow morning with the president and we will discuss all of the matters that are before us. We’re serious about trying to prevent a government shutdown. We’re also serious about cutting spending, and those are the two driving parameters of what we want to talk about.” http://abcn.ws/dTgNUF
Notably, Parkinson and Karl point out, the Senate has still not agreed to a deal of any length — short-term or long-term — and they also have not agreed to cutting $12 billion in one week. The two previous short-term spending bills have cut spending by $2 billion per week, and the latest Republican move is designed to put pressure on Democrats to go along with significantly deeper cuts or face a shutdown — a possibility that is still certainly in the cards.
President Obama and Vice Joe Biden President are scheduled to meet at 10:15 a.m. with House Speaker John Boehner, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Sen. Dan Inouye, and Rep. Hal Rogers to discuss a budget compromise. “With the process running short on time, the president will urge leaders to reach final agreement and avoid a government shutdown that would be harmful to our economic recovery," White House press secretary Jay Carney said yesterday, “time is of the essence.” Carney said the president called the meeting at the White House, “precisely because he is concerned that we need to reach a final agreement.” http://abcn.ws/gFFgH3
WHITE HOUSE TO AGENCIES: PREPARE FOR THE WORST. ABC’s Jake Tapper reports that White House officials have started telling agency and cabinet officials to begin informing managers about shutdown plans — just in case. White House officials say that would be happening at this point regardless of how well the negotiations were going to avert a government shutdown before Friday. “We are aware of the calendar, and to be prudent and prepare for the chance that Congress may not pass a funding bill in time, OMB today encouraged agency heads to begin sharing their contingency plans with senior managers throughout their organization to ensure that they have their feedback and input,” Office of Management and Budget spokesman Ken Baer told ABC News. “As the week progresses, we will continue to take necessary steps to prepare for the possibility that Congress is unable to come to agreement and a lapse in government funding ensues.” Jake Tapper and Jon Karl’s “Good Morning America” report on the looming shutdown:
TUNE IN: HOUSE SPEAKER JOHN BOEHNER ON ‘GMA.’ ABC’s George Stephanopoulos will sit down with House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, this week. The interview is set to air on “Good Morning America” on Thursday. It’s the Boehner’s first network television morning interview since becoming Speaker.
OBAMA: ‘FIRED UP’ FOR 2012. ABC’s Sunlen Miller, who listened into a conference call with President Obama last night — on the day he announced his 2012 re-election campaign — reports that “this was not a conference call you’d have heard in the 2008 presidential campaign.” The president admitted that “we may not have the exact same newness in 2008,” because there was something “so dramatic” about that process. He noted that the last two years have also taken a toll on him. Campaign manager Jim Messina downplayed the expectations directly. “We face challenges in our uphill battle; I’m not going to sugarcoat it,” Messina said. “While the president was in a much better position than he was prior to the midterms, there’s no doubt that we face a different climate than we did in 2008. We have our work cut out for us.” http://abcn.ws/e2axBl
THAT WAS THEN, THIS IS NOW: 2008 vs. 2012: ABC News takes a closer look at what happens when “hope” and “change” meet reality: How the Obama campaign’s message, the country's changing demographics, the money race and the emerging Republican presidential field will all make the coming presidential election cycle very different from the last one. http://abcn.ws/hJ8xT1
ON TODAY’S “TOP LINE. ABC’s Rick Klein and Jonathan Karl talk to Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, as well as Rep. Mike Pence, R-Ind., about the ongoing budget negotiations on Capitol Hill. Congressman Pence, in particular, has made cutting federal funding for Planned Parenthood a major priority in the current talks. Watch “Top Line” LIVE at 12:00 p.m. Eastern. http://bit.ly/ABCTopLine
EMILY’S LIST SETS SIGHTS ON GOP FRESHMEN. ABC News’ Amy Bingham reports that the pro-choice women’s activist group EMILY’s List today announced five freshmen GOP representatives that they will target in 2012. The group named Charlie Bass of New Hampshire, Chip Cravaack of Minnesota, Paul Gosar of Arizona, Joe Heck of Nevada and Allen West of Florida because of their “appallingly anti-woman, anti-family records,” according to a release sent out by the group. “Voters are feeling major buyers’ remorse,” said EMILY’s List President Stephanie Schriock. “And considering the strong female Democratic talent in their districts, we’re putting these guys on notice. Clean up your act, or it’s going to be a lousy election day for you.”
REVERSE COURSE ON GITMO. “The Obama administration, ending more than a year of indecision with a major policy reversal, will prosecute Khalid Shaikh Mohammed and four other people accused of plotting the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks before a military commission and not a civilian court, as it once planned,” The New York Times’ Charlie Savage notes. “Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. announced on Monday that he has cleared military prosecutors at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, to file war-crimes charges against the five detainees in the Sept. 11 case. Mr. Holder had decided in November 2009 to move the case to a federal civilian courtroom in New York City, but the White House abandoned that plan amid a political backlash. The shift was foreshadowed by stiffening Congressional resistance to bringing Guantánamo detainees into the United States, and by other recent steps clearing the way for new tribunal trials. Still, it marked a significant moment of capitulation in the Obama administration’s largely frustrated effort to dismantle counterterrorism architecture left behind by former President George W. Bush. President Obama, in one of his first initiatives, had announced his intention to close the Guantánamo prison in a year, a goal that he failed to fulfill.” http://nyti.ms/hZ6sAq
NEVADA GOP REDOUBLES EFFORTS TO BEAT OBAMA. “Gov. Brian Sandoval and other senior Nevada Republicans are directing a wholesale overhaul of the state party as the GOP moves to organize an advanced voter-turnout operation capable of reclaiming the Silver State from President Barack Obama in 2012,” reports Roll Call’s David Drucker. “That effort begins with preparation for Nevada’s Feb. 18, 2012, Republican presidential nominating caucuses, with the first test coming in late October, when the state GOP will host the Western Republican Leadership Conference in Las Vegas. Obama won Nevada with 55 percent of the vote in 2008, topping the 2004 performance of Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) by 7 points, improving on President George W. Bush’s total by 5 and beating President Bill Clinton’s 1996 finish by 11. Compared with spring 2007, when the party had only a few thousand dollars in its federal account — and the aftermath of the 2008 elections, when it employed just two clerical workers — the organization currently features five full-time political staff and has $335,000 in the bank to use for federal activities.” http://bit.ly/hjDj8b
SOCIAL MEDIA ECLIPSING TRADITIONAL MEDIA IN 2012. “Tim Pawlenty announced he was forming a presidential exploratory committee via Facebook. President Obama announced he was seeking reelection to the highest office in the country via a YouTube video. Mitt Romney sent out his retort via Twitter. Collectively, those developments have highlighted the prominent role social media will play in the 2012 presidential campaign,” wrote Glen Johnson of the Boston Globe. “This election cycle, the announced, nearly announced, and potential candidates are taking full advantage of digital media to communicate their message directly to potential supporters. It allows them to bypass what George W. Bush used to call ‘the filter,’ and what Sarah Palin has more tartly termed ‘the lamestream media’ For the candidates, it's also an affordable and immediate way to spread their views.” http://bo.st/fZOrlz
MR. DANIELS GOES TO WASHINGTON. “Mitch Daniels has been mostly tethered to Indianapolis during a contentious legislative session, but he's planning a trip to Washington next month to deliver what's sure to be a high-profile speech on education,” Politico’s Jonathan Martin notes. “The Indiana governor will address the American Enterprise Institute on May 4, POLITICO has learned, discussing what has been the centerpiece of his agenda this year. Thousands of opponents and supporters have descended on the Indiana state capitol in recent months to weigh in on Daniels' push to offer school vouchers, expand charter schools, overhaul teacher tenure and weaken the collective bargaining rights of teachers. The Hoosier has been mum about whether he intends to run for president, but has indicated he'll make up his mind after his legislative session, now slated for April 29th.” http://politi.co/gHK2dD
@MPOTheHill: Pence asked if he's willing to hold up entire budget over Planned Parenthood rider: "Of course I am."
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