Paul Ryan’s Budget May Count Cuts From “Obamaquester”

House GOP leaders want Obama to own the automatic cuts to spending known as the sequester, but their budget chief is expected to count the cuts toward his 10 year plan.

Handout / Reuters

WASHINGTON — House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan’s upcoming budget is expected to include savings from looming military and discretionary spending cuts worth $85 billion — the same package of cuts that Republicans have desperate tried to hang around President Barack Obama’s neck.

According to two senior GOP aides familiar with Ryan’s thinking on the budget, the Wisconsin Republican and former vice presidential candidate will use the so-called sequester as part of the baseline level of spending for his budget.

Doing so will likely make it significantly easier for him to craft a plan that balances the budget in 10 years, a time frame conservatives within the conference have demanded.

The sequester’s cuts, which will impact everything from disaster spending to military preparedness, are in current law, so using them in the budget is not in and of itself a controversial decision.

But leadership has gone to great pains to try and put the blame for the deep spending cuts on Obama — including coining various twitter hashtags and calling it the “Obama sequester” in every press release or public speech they give.

So claiming credit for the reductions in spending included in the sequester — which Republicans will do assuming they pass the budget later this year — could be problematic, at least from a messaging stand point.

During the election, Ryan and Mitt Romney hammered Obama over millions of cuts in Medicare spending included in Obamacare, even though Ryan included them in his own budgets because they were law. Those attacks drew the ire of Democrats who accused Ryan of hypocrisy.

A spokesman for Ryan declined to comment on the budget since Ryan has not yet proposed it. However, the spokesman did note that his last budget plan “replaced the sequester with common sense cuts and reforms that protect defense and key domestic priorities. In fact, over 10 years, we achieve greater savings than the sequester.”

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John Stanton is the Washington, D.C. bureau chief for BuzzFeed News. In 2014, Stanton was a recipient of the National Press Foundation’s 2014 Dirksen Award for distinguished reporting of Congress.
Contact John Stanton at
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