Budget: 40 of the Senate’s 47 Republican members stood with their House colleagues and voted for House Budget Committee Paul Ryan’s budget yesterday. Only five Republicans voted against the measure and one of them, Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., did so because he thinks it did not cut spending enough in the short term.
Meanwhile, Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner called the impending House clean debt limit vote “political theater” which is interesting because just a week ago Geithner was demanding that that Congress hold a clean vote on the debt ceiling.
And at the Peter Peterson Foundation fiscal summit, former-President Bill Clinton admitted: “If we defaulted on the debt once for a couple of days it might not be calamitous.”
Clinton also urged Democrats to work with Ryan on cutting spending: “I think the Democrats are going to have to be willing to give up, maybe, some short-term political gain by whipping up fears on some of these things — if it’s a reasonable Social Security proposal, a reasonable Medicare proposal. We’ve got to deal with these things. You cannot have health care devour the economy.”
Pawlenty: At the libertarian Cato Institute, Tim Pawlenty took a brave stand in favor of defense spending Tuesday: “I’m not one who’s going to stand before you and say we need to cut the defense budget. I’m not for shrinking America’s presence in the world. I’m for making sure America remains the world leader.”
But Pawlenty also ducked on entitlements again, reiterating that he will release his own Medicare plan soon.
Ryan: Conservative elite pressure on Ryan to run is growing. Jonah Goldberg wrote early yesterday:
By getting in, Ryan would allow the rest of the field to differentiate themselves from Ryan and the House budget. Most of the contenders would have to differentiate themselves from Ryan while also coming up with more serious entitlement-reform plans of their own than they might otherwise.
Let’s assume Ryan gets in and loses and, say, Tim Pawlenty wins the nomination. After “pushing off” from Ryan in the primaries, Pawlenty would be far better situated to tell Obama in the general, “Look, you’re running against Paul Ryan. He’s not on this stage. I am. I beat Paul Ryan. Deal with me and my ideas.”
Without Ryan, the man of the moment, in the race, and without an obvious stand-in for him, the Republicans will be saddled with the Ryan plan whether they endorse it or not. And that means Obama will be able to run against a demonically caricatured Ryan instead of the actual nominee.
Later on Fox News, Charles Krauthammer mad a very similar argument:
[the GOP] now owns this. Get the one man who can explain it, argue it and actually change minds on this. You need leadership on this or otherwise the Republicans are going to sink on this.
Huntsman: Verum Serum‘s devastating faux campaign ad for Jon Huntsman is on almost every conservative blog. The video details Huntsman’s support for cap and trade, the individual mandate, and Obama’s stimulus.
Perry: The Texas Tribune reports that Texas Gov. Rick Perry has now opened the door to a possible presidential run, declining to shoot down the possibility at his later presser. The Tribune adds: “Also Tuesday, his top strategist told the Tribune that the governor is, naturally, ‘thinking about it’ given the flattering comments made recently by some in the GOP, although he ‘doesn’t see any change in his direction.’”