In it, but not of it. TPM DC

Democrats: We're Excited To Debate GOP Shadow Budget...Why Aren't Republicans?

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"We definitely view this as a real gift as far as allowing us to finally have a real debate with Republicans on the issues," a Democratic leadership aide told me today. "I think the president when he did his Q and A with the Republicans, exposed them and their ideas and it's been something that--it has been difficult for us to do over the last year because we've been so busy passing legislation, we haven't been able to engage Republicans on their ideas and where they'd take the country."

"I think you're going to see an aggressive effort from outside groups and others who for a while, we've been all working to defend what we're doing, and that's allowed Republicans to basically run around basically untouched," the aide went on. "For them they have been able to avoid any scrutiny of what they'd do if they were in the majority"

"They're already running around measuring drapes for their new congressional offices," the aide said. "But before that happens we're going to force them to answer whether or not these are ideas that they support, and if they don't support them, what do they plan to do with Social Security, with Medicare, with the deficit."

Why are Democrats confident that this will stick? Why won't Republicans just walk away from Ryan unscathed? Because the conservative base is in charge of things now.

"Many of them are in primaries...this is the sort of thing that will drive a wedge between them and their conservative base," the leadership aide said. "They're going to have to keep an eye on the general...but they've got to get to the general."

And for that reason, you'll see a relentless push on the part of leadership to keep the shadow budget, and the Republicans who can't quite support or oppose it, on the surface.

"I admire [Ryan] for putting a very substantive [proposal] on the table," Hoyer said today. "I think the Republicans, if they don't support his proposal, put something else on the table."

About The Author

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Brian Beutler is TPM's senior congressional reporter. Since 2009, he's led coverage of health care reform, Wall Street reform, taxes, the GOP budget, the government shutdown fight and the debt limit fight. He can be reached at brian@talkingpointsmemo.com