ABC News’ Rick Klein (@rickklein) reports: Amid the public hand-wringing over his party’s stance on Medicare, count freshman Sen. Mike Lee among those committed to standing behind a bold – if politically risky – set of policy proposals.
“I’m not nervous about what Republicans are doing,” Lee, R-Utah, who was elected last year with strong Tea Party support, told us on ABC’s “Top Line” today.
“Republicans are the only group in this town who put forward a budget, a budget that’s gone anywhere. The only budget we’ve got from any Democrat right now is the president’s, which got exactly zero votes on the floor of the Senate yesterday. That tells you something about where his leadership in this country is taking us.”
Despite skepticism from some Republicans – including the leading presidential contenders – about the budget put forward by Rep. Paul Ryan, Lee said there’s broad agreement inside the GOP:
“They do endorse the idea that we have to address these problems head on. We have to confront entitlements. We have to confront the fact that if we do nothing, that by itself will destroy our entitlement system.”
Regarding Medicare, Lee said, the key is to frame the choices to voters:
“Obviously it’s an enormously complex problem. We need to continue to message that well, to explain it to the American people. To explain most importantly the fact that the current path, allowing Medicare to remain intact, unchanged, simply isn’t an option.”
Turning to Utah politics, Lee praised his colleague, Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, for voting for Sen. Rand Paul’s proposal to bring the budget into balance within five years – a measure that cuts far deeper than Ryan’s budget. Only seven senators wound up voting for the Paul proposal.
But Lee stopped short of endorsing Hatch for reelection, in a race where some Tea Partiers are hoping to mount an aggressive primary campaign.
“I love Orrin Hatch. I work with him every day and I wish him well. He does not yet have a challenger,” Lee said.
Watch the full interview with Sen. Mike Lee HERE.
Also today, we featured Paul Ryan’s trip aboard Jon Karl’s “Subway Series” – only this was really more of a “Tahoe Talk” in the backseat of Ryan’s SUV.
Watch the segment with Rep. Paul Ryan HERE.