Ryan was under additional pressure this year because the House GOP leadership had promised a 10-year balanced budget to conservatives back in January as a way of placating them over the deal to avoid the fiscal cliff, which included substantial tax increases for high income Americans.
But Republican number-crunchers on the House Budget Committee believe that a friendlier fiscal landscape could allow them to reach their 10-year goal without raising the Medicare threshold. They also don't believe raising the age would yield substantial savings within a 10-year window, so the budgetary benefits are minimal and the political costs significant.
Richard Kogan, a budget expert at the liberal-leaning Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, told TPM this week that the House GOP's task will be made easier thanks to the tax hikes in the fiscal cliff, updated revenue projections and the onset of sequestration. Dent echoed that assessment, saying that the new baseline makes a 10-year balanced budget easier to achieve.
Other Republicans, including Reps. Phil Gingrey (GA) and Trent Franks (AZ), said Wednesday that raising the age for who would still have traditional guarantee-based Medicare has been under consideration, but declined to say whether they expect it to be included in Ryan's final budget proposal.
Dent warned that the promise to those above 55 may not be sustainable over the years if Congress doesn't reform Medicare. "But for the year, anyway," he told TPM, "it looks like they're going to maintain the 55 year commitment."