- The Washington Times - Sunday, December 15, 2013

As the bipartisan budget deal moves to the Senate, where it faces opposition from some Republicans, Rep. Paul Ryan is telling those on the right that the compromise is good for core conservative values.

“Look at the details, I say to those who are criticizing it. This is keeping our principle intact: no tax increases, net deficit reduction, permanent spending cuts in place of the across-the-board approach,” Mr. Ryan said on “Fox News Sunday.”

The Wisconsin Republican joined Sen. Patty Murray, Washington Democrat, last week to announce the two-year, $1.012 trillion plan, which would alleviate some of the sequester cuts and reduce the deficit by $23 billion over 10 years.

The bill passed the House on Thursday despite criticism from both sides.

The Senate is expected to begin considering the bill Tuesday and will have to reach a 60-vote threshold to forward the plan to the president’s desk.

“I think it’s a step forward that shows that there can be other breakthroughs and compromise if you take the time to know somebody, know what their passions are and know how you can work together,” Ms. Murray said Sunday on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” where she appeared alongside Mr. Ryan.

SEE ALSO: Sen. Chuck Schumer: ‘Pretty safe bet’ the budget deal will pass in Senate

Conservative senators who have come out against the bill include Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Kentucky Republican facing a tea party primary challenger next year, and Sen. Rand Paul, Kentucky Republican and possible 2016 presidential contender. They say the bill increases spending in the short term, exceeds the budget caps by relieving some sequester cuts and doesn’t go far enough to reduce the deficit.

The proposal also upset outside conservative groups, which bashed the proposal even before it was released. House Speaker John A. Boehner, Ohio Republican, responded Thursday by saying these critics had lost all credibility.

Mr. Ryan, however, called the tea party an “indispensable” part of the GOP and cited the help the grass-roots activists offered the party after Republicans lost control of the House in 2006.

“Look, I think John just got his Irish up there,” Mr. Ryan said on Fox News. “I think these groups are valuable. The way I look at it is this: They’re part of our conservative family; I’d prefer to keep these conversations within our family.”

Mr. Ryan and Ms. Murray acknowledged that the plan is just a small step and said a long-term grand bargain that addresses tax and entitlement reforms is impossible with the current political climate in Washington. Mr. Ryan said the GOP will need to win elections to get the kinds of big changes his Republican colleagues want and that his budget deal with Ms. Murray will help the party win seats in 2014 and 2016.

The budget deal taught negotiators to listen to, respect and trust one another, an important first step to tackling bigger issues and a larger deal, Ms. Murray said.

“We can’t take on the tough discussions unless we can learn to use the word ‘compromise’ so that we can have that be a respected, trusted word in this Congress,” she said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” “If we just sit in our corners and yell at each other and that’s all we get rewarded for, we’ll never get to those big discussions about tax reform or strengthening our entitlements.”

Mr. Ryan hinted that more changes may be on the way.

“Watch the Ways and Means Committee in the first quarter of next year. We’re going to be advancing tax reform legislation because we think that’s a key ingredient to getting people back to work, to increasing take-home pay, to growing this economy,” he said on “Meet the Press.”

Before dealing with a grand bargain or tax reform, however, lawmakers are in for another fiscal showdown over the debt ceiling. Ms. Murray said that, in the interest in finding common ground, any discussions on the nation’s debt limit were left out of budget talks. Mr. Ryan, however, said Republicans are looking at strategy for the next fiscal battle.

“We, as a caucus, along with our Senate counterparts, are going to meet and discuss what we want out of the debt limit,” he said on “Fox News Sunday.” “We don’t want nothing out of the debt limit.”

The U.S. is expected to hit its debt ceiling early next year and could default if the limit isn’t raised.

Fox anchor Chris Wallace said Ms. Murray turned down a joint interview with Mr. Ryan on his Sunday program.



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