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Could Paul Ryan's budget fail to pass the House?
Some conservatives are joining liberals in trashing Ryan's fiscal blueprint
 
Paul Ryan says he can lead the nation on a path to prosperity. Many of his congressional colleagues — even some Republicans — aren't ready to follow.
Paul Ryan says he can lead the nation on a path to prosperity. Many of his congressional colleagues — even some Republicans — aren't ready to follow. T.J. Kirkpatrick/Getty Images

Democrats have been verbally thrashing Rep. Paul Ryan's (R-Wis.) budgets for years, at least since the House GOP fiscal policy maven took the reins of the budget committee in 2011, but probably as far back as Ryan's first "Roadmap for America's Future" in 2008. So it's no surprise that liberals lambasted Ryan's 2013 budget. But this year, says Sahil Kapur at Talking Points Memo, Ryan is also "facing criticism for his new budget proposal from an unexpected source: Conservative policy wonks."

To be sure, there's a lot that conservatives like about Ryan's budget. "But they voiced substantial critiques in three flavors," says Kapur: "Lament that the entitlement reforms don't go far enough, arguments that ObamaCare repeal and a 10-year balanced budget are not feasible, and worries that the plan fails to broaden the GOP's reach among voters." The critics include conservatives who don't shy away from criticizing Republicans, like New York Times columnist Ross Douthat and Romesh Ponnuru at National Review, but also James Pethokoukis at the American Enterprise Institute, health care wonk Avik Roy, and the Heritage Foundation.

But the biggest thumbs-down for Ryan's plan from the right came from Rep. Paul Broun (R-Ga.), who publishing his critique in The New York Times. Ryan's latest budget, "called 'The Path to Prosperity,' is anything but," Broun says. "I cannot vote for something that would trick the American people into thinking that Congress is fixing Washington's spending problem, when in actuality we'd just be allowing it to continue without end."

Broun is a backbencher aligned with the Tea Party (and also a candidate for an opening Senate seat), while Ryan is a bona fide (if possibly fading) GOP star — the party's 2012 vice presidential nominee and the GOP's leading voice on fiscal issues. So the op-ed may seem like Broun trying to punch way above his weight — "I'm not going to comment on it," Ryan tells The Daily Caller. "I haven't read it yet." But Broun's dissent could signal that Ryan's budget is in trouble, says Jonathan Bernstein at The Washington Post. Eight of the 10 Republicans who voted against Ryan's budget in 2012 are still in the House, and "with Broun a ninth GOP opponent, another six or so defectors would sink the whole thing," assuming Democrats keep up their unified opposition.

Still, Bernstein notes, Ryan and Co. have an ace up their sleeve.

Because Republicans passed a provision linking congressional pay to passing a budget resolution, individual members of the House have a personal financial stake in voting with Ryan. No budget, no pay.... I have no idea how effective salary blackmail will be to securing the last few votes Republicans will need to pass their budget... it clearly isn't strong enough to overcome Broun's electoral incentives — he presumably sees a chance to differentiate himself from other members of the House in a potentially crowded primary field for an open Senate seat. But could it make a difference to some Republicans whose votes are a close call? It certainly might — and it's looking as if the Republican leadership and Ryan are going to need every vote they can get. [Washington Post]

 
Peter Weber is a senior editor at TheWeek.com, and has handled the editorial night shift since 2008. A graduate of Northwestern University, Peter has worked at Facts on File and The New York Times Magazine. He speaks Spanish and Italian, and plays in an Austin rock band.

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