Will Republicans Propose Entitlement Cuts? Cantor: Yes! Ryan: Maybe!

Jeff Malet Photography

Probably Paul Ryan and Eric Cantor should trade notes next year.

Republicans have spent all day attacking President Obama’s budget for not addressing entitlements. So of course, reporters have been peppering Republicans with questions about whether they will take the lead and propose Medicare and Social Security cuts in their own budget, scheduled to come out this spring.

The two obvious answers to this question are: “yes” and “wait and see.” Today, Republicans went with both.At a press conference Monday afternoon, House Budget Committee chairman Paul Ryan swatted away about a half dozen questions about whether his forthcoming budget plan will address entitlements.

“It’s difficult for me to tell you what our budget’s going to look like, given that we haven’t written it, and given that we haven’t even gotten our baseline with which to write it,” he said.

Later: “I know everybody wants to get into what is our budget going to do and how is it going to work.”

By the end, he was a little annoyed: “How many times are you guys gonna keep asking me this?”

But just moments before, and unbeknownst to him, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor had already been answered that question in the affirmative.

“Yes, we will include entitlement reform provisions in our budget,” Cantor told reporters at his weekly press availability. “Again, unlike the President, unlike Harry Reid who doesn’t even admit there needs to be any reform of Social Security.”

The president missed an opportunity to lead today, to try and address the biggest fiscal challenge we have. And so we’re going to lead and include that in our budget. You’ve heard me say it before: it is high time for us to begin from the standpoint when we’re talking about the reforms needed, that you’ve got a population 55 and older year, that you need to tell them that their benefits and the system they’re used to will stay the same. But it’s for the rest of us, 54 and younger, that we’re going to have to have reforms to these systems in order to save them for the crowd that’s 54 and younger. And so you’ll see those details developed as we come forward with Mr. Ryan’s budget and his committee’s work.

In fairness to Ryan, it’s not like he was dodging the question because he’s scared of the politics or something like that. As the author of the entitlement slashing Roadmap for America’s Future, he’s perhaps the most vocal Republicans on the issue. Probably he just hadn’t gotten the memo.


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