House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan told reporters in New York today that a dozen elected Democrats secretly support his plan to cut entitlement spending and privatize some benefits — but he wouldn't name "because I don't' want to get them in trouble."
Ryan cited Oregon Senator Ron Wyden, with whom he developed a Medicare reform plan, as one Democrat with whom he could work, and said, "I believe there is a bipartisan consensus emerging on going this direction."
"This isn’t like some foreign, right-wing concept," he said of his plan to raise revenues by eliminating tax breaks for the wealthy.
"There are a number of Democrats but I don’t want to name their names, because I don’t want to get them in trouble," he said. "I’ve had 12 come up to me and say, 'I love what you're doing with Ron [Wyden],'" he said. As for going public with their support, Ryan said the Democrats told him: "No way, I’ll get killed."
"I’m not going to out Democrats who I believe are in office, who are favorably disposed to these ideas, for their own sake and for the sake fo getting this consensus realized," Ryan said at the gathering hosted by Bloomberg View in Manhattan Tuesday morning.
But he said he hoped Republican victories in November would change that playing field.
"We hopefully will be in the position to realize this consensus, and include those Erskine Bowles, Ron Wyden, Alice Rivlin Democrats, and bring them into that coalition," he said.
Ryan also said he saw in the current rhetoric of "class" a path to compromise.
"Why don't we stop subsidizing the wealthy, why don't we stop subsidizing corporations, why don't we stop corporate welfare?" he asked. "There is an area I think we can get consensus on."
Ryan also spoke briefly of Mitt Romney, whom he recently endorsed.
"He reminds me of a lot of people i grew up with, a lot of people i know, who have that Midwest earnestness," he said. "He's kind of a throwback to the '50s"
Also: "He's a very funny dude."