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Posted at 10:00 AM ET, 01/ 7/2011

Paul Ryan leads the charge

By Jennifer Rubin

Raising the debt ceiling, as I noted yesterday, is a test for Republican leaders: Do they, to borrow a phrase, hold the country hostage and threaten a default on the debt, or do they use the opportunity to extract serious spending cuts? So far, it seems that House budget committee chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.) fully intends to do the latter. As this report from First Read explains:

Some conservative Republicans have urged their GOP colleagues to resist raising the ceiling -- which currently clocks in at $14.3 trillion -- under any circumstances. Rep. Michele Bachmann of Minnesota is collecting signatures on her PAC's website "to force our elected officials to stop spending cold turkey," and Sen. Jim DeMint of South Carolina has advocated for a "big showdown" with Democrats by blocking the raise.

But House Budget Chairman Rep. Paul Ryan says that tactic isn't viable. "Just refusing to vote for it, I don't think that's really a strategy," he said, noting that a failure to raise the ceiling could result in the nation defaulting on its debts to investors.

"Will the debt ceiling be raised? Does it have to be raised? Yes," he said at an event sponsored by economics21 and the Manhattan Institute at the National Press Club Thursday.

But Ryan suggested that Republicans can tweak some specifics of the move - how many years the increase covers, for example. And, more importantly, they can tack on requirements for deep spending cuts as a condition of passage. "I want to make sure we get substantial spending cuts and controls in exchange for raising the debt ceiling," he said.

Ryan expanded on that theme on his Facebook page:

After Washington has shoveled trillions of dollars we don't have out the door, it is ridiculous to think we can't cut $100 billion in government spending. We plan on bringing spending cuts to the floor every week. Today, the House voted to cut its own budget by 5%. Next week, we'll vote to cut trillions by repealing the costly health care law. We need to attack Washington's pervasive culture of spending.

In other words, start strong, use the House's leverage to the maximum extent possible, and put the onus on the White House and the Senate to justify why cuts shouldn't be made. It is an approach enthusiastically endorsed by fiscal conservative groups. A spokesman Americans for Tax Reform said the group backed Ryan's effort to extract spending cuts and will be "running a major campaign exactly to this effect." He continued, "There should be substantive reforms tied to any debt limit hike. What form that takes is a prudential decision, but it should be substantive."

It's the first week yet, and we've barely begun, but notice how prominent Ryan is in the House strategy and public salesmanship departments. Because the issues are budget issues, he has extraordinary visibility, to an even greater degree than the speaker and majority leader. To their credit, both John Boehner and Eric Cantor are letting Ryan lead the charge. That allows Ryan to be the articulate and persuasive voice of the Republicans.

Liberal pundits have been all in a tizzy about "who will be the face of the GOP"? In the near run, the answer is Paul Ryan.

UPDATE(10:51 am): Brian Riedl of the Heritage Foundation applauds Ryan's approach, telling me that "this is a terrific opportunity to attach real spending cuts, and real budget reforms. Its must-pass legislation, so conservatives really can hold an upper hand winning long-term budget reforms." Likewise, Rep. Tom Price (R.-Ga.) sends out a statement that includes this: "For our part, Republicans have shown countless times that we are ready, willing, and committed to take those tough but necessary steps to ensure we do not leave our children and grandchildren with a legacy of fiscal ruin. In order to avoid forcing future generations to foot the bill or cause harm today by having the government default on its obligations, President Obama and Democrat leaders in the Senate will have to be willing to make substantial cuts in federal spending. It will require a rollback in the expansion of government our Democrat colleagues have previously championed and implemented."

By Jennifer Rubin  | January 7, 2011; 10:00 AM ET
Categories:  Budget  
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"In the near run, the answer is Paul Ryan."

And I have got NO problem with that. The man is is exactly what the GOP needs... brains and salesmanship. Its just a shame he is not more seasoned because he would be a fabulous pick to lead the GOP in 2012.

Posted by: Indy82 | January 7, 2011 10:37 AM | Report abuse

Who knows how much steel Obamam has in his spine? He could pull a total collapse and the raise could be seen as a significant GOP victory.

However if he shows more than we've seen so far. The R's are in big trouble. All he has to do as the government shuts down is keep hammering away at "the Republican shut down of government" and the GOP will get crushed.

Boehner is no master of public relations. With all the crowing the GOP is doing about being in charge now, there's no way they can walk away from any of the old people not getting their SS checks.

So without knowing how strong Obama will be, the GOP has much less leverage than they think on this one.

Posted by: 54465446 | January 7, 2011 10:43 AM | Report abuse

Ryan will bring cuts to spending to the floor that are cosmetic only but grist for media reporters turned stenographers to cogitate on, such as the alleged cut in the House operating budget.

Close several dozen unnecessary military bases and freeze all spending at 2008 levels for the next five years and the deficit will disappear.

Posted by: Lazarus40 | January 7, 2011 11:01 AM | Report abuse

Lazarus wrote:

" . . .and freeze all spending at 2008 levels for the next five years . . ."

Congrautlations on re-creating the "death panels"!

Any freeze on Medicare spending for five years would inevitably lead to rationing of treatment choices.

Posted by: 54465446 | January 7, 2011 11:24 AM | Report abuse

Paul Ryan leads the charge

So Desperate for a Savior,
What happened to Pence?,he was December's savior

Posted by: rcaruth | January 7, 2011 11:37 AM | Report abuse

"Paul Ryan leads the charge!" says schoolgirl Jennifer Rubin, gushing. How pathetic.

Posted by: danw1 | January 7, 2011 1:07 PM | Report abuse


Well maybe, but he's a very charismatic guy! LOL I've been impressed by him.

Plus, if he's as good a poltician as I think he is, he'll quietly exit, stage left, from the leadership on this, if it looks like there's going to be an actual shutdown. Let Boehner take all the arrows and then re-emerge when the crisis is over.

There's no need for everybody to get killed is there?

Posted by: 54465446 | January 7, 2011 2:23 PM | Report abuse

Why not let the US default? You right wing economic genius' thought we should have allowed the world's banking system to collapse and there would have been no long term consequences. Follow through on that ideologically driven logic. Stop the US debt in it's tracks right where it is. Have the decency to have the courage of your own words.

Posted by: kchses1 | January 7, 2011 3:51 PM | Report abuse

Why not let the US default? You right wing economic genius' thought we should have allowed the world's banking system to collapse and there would have been no long term consequences. Follow through on that ideologically driven logic. Stop the US debt in it's tracks right where it is. Have the decency to have the courage of your own words.

Posted by: kchses1 | January 7, 2011 3:57 PM | Report abuse

Keep in mind that there is huge Tea Party support for the sort of thing Paul Ryan is trying to do. This isn't just political posturing. That makes it different from the last time a Republican House had a showdown with a Democrat president involving shutting down the government. The base wants to see real results. The fallout from such a showdown may not be as negative as pundits think.

Posted by: RoscoeMB | January 7, 2011 6:42 PM | Report abuse

Why is this man not running for president in 2012? I see where some say he is not seasoned. Do you think obamster is? obama was the last thing this country needed, his vaque and ambiguous " hope and change ", can someone define what changes he meant? To change the U.S.A. in to a third world bankrupt ghetto slum? Can someone define his idea of hope? Did he hope to elevate all Americans to a an economic level by bankrupting the the American societies producers? obama's religious race class war in America is costing the working class taxpayers trillions of dollars and I for one am sick and tired of paying for nothing in return, and these parasites and leeches have their hands out demanding more for nothing. Now he wants to give them free medical care at the cost to the American taxpayer? If they want medical care, let them do the jobs they think they are too good to do, or let them go hungry, and let them get sick, they have to become responsible for themselves, grow up.

Posted by: tymtrvlr1 | January 7, 2011 7:09 PM | Report abuse

the United States needs to shut down these groups that teach the illegals how to get welfare and handouts from the American system. You noticed I did'nt refer them as entitlements, that's because you have to WORK for something to be entitled to it. These parasites and leeches think the country owes them, I don't.

Posted by: tymtrvlr1 | January 7, 2011 7:14 PM | Report abuse

I could save the country $365 Billion a year, just quit giving the illegals free stuff. $365 billion to educate them, feed them, house them, give them free medical care. $365 billion a year would pay for alot of border patrol and technology.
And theis b@#L$#!t that we should give them the south west back is all a deflection of them being here illegally, we could give them the whole west coast, they would squander the wealth and start sneaking into the East coast, it's all a line of crap, like it has any real credibility. Start sending them back to their $#!t holes of origin, and send those countries the bill for us having to support their worthless butts, and if they don't pay it back, we take it back in natural resources. With mexico, take their oil.

Posted by: tymtrvlr1 | January 7, 2011 7:21 PM | Report abuse

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