He's skeptical about whether President Obama's budget truly will tackle runaway spending, but the House Republicans' budget point man believes the White House has taken a small step forward on the sticky issue of Social Security.
"He's creaking the door open ever so slightly on entitlement reform," House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, Wisconsin Republican and the party's 2012 vice presidential nominee, said on MSNBC's "Morning Joe" on Wednesday morning.
Mr. Obama's fiscal 2014 budget will include changes to the way Social Security benefits are calculated, moving from the current inflation measure to the "chained" consumer price index (CPI). Such a system will slow the program's cost growth by reducing payments over time.
It's an olive branch to Mr. Ryan and others in the GOP anxious to pursue deeper changes to Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. But it's already angering liberal Democrats who hold such programs sacred.
There is "a lot of opposition to the president's proposal on changed CPI," Rep. Peter Welch, Vermont Democrat, said on C-SPAN's "Washington Journal" program on Wednesday.
While the Social Security proposal may find favor with Republicans, the rest of the president's budget appears to represent the "status quo," Mr. Ryan added.
"When does he balance the budget? Does he propose to ever balance the budget?" he said.
But with Mr. Obama's budget now on the table, Mr. Ryan said, at least all sides can take part in a legitimate negotiating process for the first time in four years. House Republicans, Senate Democrats and the White House have all put forth spending plans — something that hasn't happened since 2009.
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