Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., ranking Republican on the House Budget Committee, talks about an alternative Republican budget plan he is pushing in the House, Wednesday, April 1, 2009, during a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
For years, House Republicans have held Paul Ryan’s plan to revamp Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security at arm’s length, deeming it politically unwise to embrace it.
Now that the GOP controls the House, however, John Boehner and Eric Cantor, the incoming speaker of the House and majority leader, face a choice: Do they keep Ryan’s “Road Map” plan in the background, or embrace it and use it to present the country with a clear contrast to President Obama?
Ryan has said he wants to include his plan – which would move entitlements and health care in a more free market direction than Obama’s health plan, seeking to lower prices through consumer purchasing power – in the budget that comes out of his committee in April, but that he does not know if leadership will support him.
“I know what I want to do but I don’t know what I can do,” he said earlier this month.
Passing the Road Map as part of the House budget would likely go nowhere in the Senate and would undoubtedly draw the president’s veto even if it made it to his desk. But it would be a conscious decision by Republicans to do more than say no to Obama’s plan, moving beyond mere opposition to advocating a vision of their own.
“We will be choosing what kind of future we want to have for the rest of this century in the very near future in this country, probably in 2012. So I believe we owe it to the country to give them an alternative choice than the path we’re on right now,” Ryan said.
One week before the 112th Congress begins, Boehner and Cantor have kept mum about their intentions. They declined to answer questions from The Daily Caller on the matter.
A survey of Republican and Tea Party leaders found some support for the idea of embedding the Road Map in the budget, though there was also some at the grassroots level who demonstrated a lack of familiarity with the plan.
Doug Mainwaring, a Tea Party activist in the Maryland suburbs north of Washington, was unequivocal about his desire to see the Road Map banner picked up by Republican leaders in Congress.
“If the Republican leadership doesn’t get behind Mr. Ryan and actively promote the Road Map, I predict that Tea Partiers will be looking for a new crop of congressmen in 2012,” Mainwaring, a real estate agent, told TheDC.
Mainwaring said that the Road Map is “the only sincere attempt to deal with serious structural and systemic problems our nation now faces,” and said Tea Party activists are “suspicious” about why Ryan’s plan has not been put “front and center” by House GOP leaders.
Bob MacGuffie, a grassroots Tea Party activist in Connecticut, said the grassroots conservatives in his state would support the Ryan plan “100 percent” if it was introduced in the House budget.