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The tea leaf readers say Responsible Republicans like Mitt Romney sidekick Paul Ryan are trying to walk their colleagues away from the brink:
Leading Republicans in the House appeared to be trying to move the stalemate away from efforts to defund President Obama’s health care law to a broader discussion of fiscal policy.
In an opinion piece in Wednesday’s Wall Street Journal, Representative Paul D. Ryan, Republican of Wisconsin and chairman of the House Budget Committee, proposed negotiating a continuing resolution to reopen the government with a focus on changes to entitlement programs like Medicare and a reshaping of the federal tax code. He did not mention the Affordable Care Act, which Republicans had said must be defunded, delayed or damaged before the full government is to be reopened.
But after angry tea partiers voiced their displeasure in a flurry of tweets, Ryan decided that he meant something a little different
“Are you putting Obamacare to the side?” Bennett asked Ryan on his show Wednesday morning.
“No,” the congressman replied. “Obamacare’s an entitlement just like any other entitlement. So that, as far as we’re concerned, is in this conversation. Medicare, Medicaid, Obamacare, those are the big drivers of our debt. If you look in the op-ed, I say we have to — ultimately we have to rethink all of our nation’s healthcare laws.”
So far from taking Obamacare off the table, Ryan says he was expanding the playing field to include Medicare and Medicaid as well. Sure, he acknowledged that Obamacare can't be fully repealed through through the shutdown threat, but:
“We’re not saying stop going after Obamacare,” he said. “We’re saying add these other things to this list because we think they’re in this country’s interest, and by the way, in some of these instances, entitlement reform, I think the president might be willing to do this.”
When he wrote the op-ed, Ryan might have been trying to limit the scope of the GOP's demands. But faced with little more than Twitter backlash and a question from Antonin Scalia's favorite news source, he's now written an even bigger check for the GOP leadership to cash.