Paul Ryan Calls Obama’s Budget An ‘Olive Branch,’ Expresses Optimism

Paul Ryan Obama budget

House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan says President Barack Obama’s recent budget proposal gives him reason to be optimistic.

The Wisconsin Republican and former vice presidential candidate told NPR that he was encouraged by the gestures made in the president’s budget.

“This is the first time in this presidency that I have seen a chance at a bipartisan budget agreement, so I am cautiously optimistic about that,” Ryan said.

The president unveiled his budget proposal for the 2014 fiscal year yesterday, but the plan was dead on arrival. Media reports had leaked much of the plan’s details already, and those details drew ire from both liberals and conservatives.

House Speaker John Boehner insisted that the president’s budget never actually balances and abhors the additional taxes that the budget plan calls for. Boehner isn’t too keen on anything with the president’s name on it, but even sharper criticism came from the left. Democratic lawmakers, progressive advocacy groups, and liberal voters alike expressed outrage that the president would not only accept — but propose — cuts to Social Security and other entitlement programs.

“Do I sense a different attitude from the White House?” Ryan asked, having referred to the president’s plan as an “olive branch.” “Do I sense a different attitude in the Senate Democrats who’ve for the first time in four years passed a budget? Yeah, I do.”

Ryan expressed optimism that there is a better chance of Congress passing a budget this year than he’s seen in the last four. He isn’t alone.

Negotiations over the budget come among negotiations over immigration reform and gun control, both of which also show a chance of mustering bipartisan support.

On the other hand, Ohio Representative Greg Walden has broken from the conservative ranks and attacked Obama over his proposed budget cuts to Social Security.

“Chairman Walden supports the budget passed by House Republicans that preserves and protects Medicare and Social Security while also balancing the budget in 10 years,” a spokesman for the National Republican Campaign Committee told Talking Points Memo in a statement. “He disagrees with President Obama’s political plan that hurts current seniors just so he can pay for more wasteful spending.”

Mr. President, you just can’t win, can you? Perhaps, but Paul Ryan’s support for parts of the Obama budget does move the goal post a tad closer. If only a little.