WASHINGTON — The White House wants you to be very, very afraid of the newest version of Paul Ryan's Republican budget proposal. But administration officials also scratched their heads Tuesday at Ryan's latest budget plan, wondering why after Ryan was defeated at the polls along with Mitt Romney Republicans are sidling up to him again.
At the White House press briefing, Press Secretary Jay Carney said President Obama "certainly believes that Congressman Ryan is sincere in what he believes his budget represents in terms of policy priorities, and he commends Congressman Ryan for the effort, but there is no question that the Ryan budget, again, represents a series of policy choices that this president profoundly disagrees with."
In a written statement to the press, Carney was largely just as diplomatic. But in private, senior administration officials were much harder on the Ryan plan, warning that it could mean deep cuts to domestic programs and even saying it could have a negative impact on the economy.
For now, the White House appears to be keeping it publicly diplomatic in the midst of the president's so-called "charm offensive" with Congressional Republicans. But that doesn't mean the administration is more comfortable with this proposal than it was with previous versions. If anything, after the resounding win last November, the officials seemed confused as to why the House GOP would get behind a plan that still calls for the repeal of the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare.
In an interview with ABC News Tuesday, President Obama showed a bit of the behind-the-scenes criticism of Ryan's plan when asked if he will propose a balanced budget when his proposal comes out next month.
"We're not gonna balance the budget in 10 years because if you look at what Paul Ryan does to balance the budget, it means that you have to voucher-ize Medicare, you have to slash deeply into programs like Medicaid, you've essentially got to — either tax — middle-class families a lot higher than you currently are, or you can't lower rates the way he's promised," Obama told ABC. "So it's really, you know, it's a reprise of the same legislation that he's put before."