Boehner on Paul Ryan Budget: 'An Idea...Worthy of Consideration'

ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- The Republican-controlled House approved House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan’s budget proposal before Congress left for a two-week break earlier this month -- putting GOP members on record for a plan that would phase out Medicare for those 55 years of age or under.

But while the Ryan plan now is the House Republican plan, House Speaker John Boehner cautioned in an interview that Ryan’s proposal is just “an idea...worthy of consideration.”

Ryan’s proposal simple “transforms Medicare into a plan that's very similar to the president's own health care bill,” Boehner told ABC’s Jonathan Karl Monday. “It covers all the same things that'll be covered today. And it transforms the program so it's there. It wouldn't affect anyone that's 55 or older.”

“Paul Ryan has an idea that's certainly worthy of consideration in terms of how do we -- how do we do this in a more efficient way?” said Boehner, R-Ohio.

“I’m for it,” Boehner continued. “It's our idea. Right? It's Paul's idea. Other people have other ideas.  I'm not wedded to one single idea, but I think it’s -- we have a plan.”

Boehner is putting just a touch of distance between himself and the Ryan plan as Democrats blast Republicans for their votes for the measure. They’re characterizing support for the Ryan plan as “voting to end Medicare.”

Boehner also criticized President Obama for issuing a budget plan of his own that ignored the recommendations of his own deficit commission.

“While I didn't agree with everything they did, there was a lot their proposal that was worthy of consideration,” he said. “And what did the president do? He took exactly none of his own deficit reduction commission's ideas. Not one. Come on! It's time to grow up and get serious about the problems that face our country.”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


GOP Lawmakers Face Angry, Confused Constituents on Cuts

ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- The backlash that some Republican members of Congress are facing in town hall meetings over their 2012 budget proposal rings a familiar bell.

In August 2009, Democrats across the country faced rowdy, YouTube-worthy protesters as they tried to sell the health care plan.

As Republican members take to the road during their two-week break from Congress to try and sell the budget proposal crafted by Rep. Paul Ryan, they are facing similar questions, though the outcry thus far has not yet escalated to the level that their Democratic counterparts faced.

Americans are particularly concerned, and somewhat confused, about the proposal to overhaul Medicare, a central feature of the Wisconsin Congressman's proposal.

Under the plan, starting in 2022, senior citizens would be able to shop for coverage on insurance exchanges set up by their state, but instead of the federal government paying for every service as it currently does, each Medicare beneficiary would be allotted a certain amount of money based on their income.

The age of Medicare eligibility would increase by two months every year until it reaches 67 in 2033.

"What you're doing with this Ryan budget is you're taking Medicare and you're changing it from a guaranteed health care system to one that's a voucher system where you throw seniors ... on the mercy of for-profit insurance companies," railed one attendee at a town hall held by Rep. Lou Barletta, R-Penn.

In New Hampshire, Rep. Charlie Bass heard similar complaints.

"This is just salt in the wound," a constituent told the freshman Republican.

Ryan, who has emerged as the GOP's leader on budget issues, himself hasn't been immune.  At one town hall meeting last Tuesday, the House Budget committee chairman was booed after getting into a brief confrontation with one attendee about income equality and the middle class.

Other town halls, where constituents praised him for his efforts -- even calling on him to run for president -- made up for it.  But the message remains the same: Americans have yet to fully digest what the plan would mean for them.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Shrinking 2012 Field: What Haley Barbour’s Exit Means for GOP

Comstock Images/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- You can call it the incredible shrinking presidential field: at this point, we’ve had more potential Republican primary candidates definitively announce that they won’t run than they will.

Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour, citing a lack of fire in the belly, became the latest to join the “not gonna do it” caucus Monday.

"A candidate for president today is embracing a 10-year commitment to an all-consuming effort, to the virtual exclusion of all else,” Barbour said in a statement, telling his supporters that he did not have it in him to wage that kind of effort.

But given his active travel to the early states -- he won a straw poll in South Carolina just 10 days ago and had been making the rounds in New Hampshire and Iowa before that -- and his courting of donors, activists, top campaign consultants and strategists, this decision was unexpected.

It was another sign of how presidential politics frequently upends conventional wisdom -- a useful reminder heading into a primary season when a plurality of GOP voters say they have “no opinion” of any of the possible candidates and fewer than half say they are satisfied with the current field.

Here’s where things stand now: There are eight candidates who have taken some sort of step to explore a run for president -- former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, former Godfather’s Pizza CEO Herman Cain, former Louisiana Gov. Buddy Roemer and former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson.

Add to that list Texas Rep. Ron Paul, who later Tuesday plans to announce the formation of a presidential exploratory committee at a news conference in Des Moines, Iowa.

Now, all eyes turn to Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels, who said he will make a decision about a presidential run sometime after the legislative session ends this week.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


ABC News/'Washington Post' Poll: New Low for Obama on Afghanistan

The White House(NEW YORK) -- New data from an ABC News/Washinton Post poll shows a record 49 percent of Americans now disapprove of President Obama’s handling of the situation in Afghanistan, up eight points since January. And those who disapprove “strongly” outnumber strong approvers by nearly a 2-1 margin.
With Obama holding his monthly national security meeting on Afghanistan Monday, the results show a significant drop in the president’s approval rating on handling the issue, down 12 points in an ABC News/Washington Post poll from one year ago.
The change follows an ABC/Post poll last month in which a new low, 31 percent, said the war in Afghanistan has been worth fighting. Sixty-four percent said it is not worth fighting, with 49 percent feeling that way “strongly,” both record highs in ABC/Post polls.
The spike in disapproval in the latest survey is almost entirely due to a slide in support on the right. Compared to January, disapproval is up by 21 points among Republicans (from 48 percent to 69 percent), by 12 points among conservatives (from 51 percent to 63 percent), and by 11 points among Tea Party supporters (from 55 to 66 percent).
Views on the war could impact Obama’s fortunes in the next election: Among those who disapprove of his handling of the situation, 70 percent say they will definitely not vote for him for re-election in 2012.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Ron Paul Will Announce 2012 Presidential Exploratory Committee Tuesday

Jason Merritt/Getty Images(DES MOINES, Iowa) -- Texas Rep. Ron Paul, who made waves as a favorite of the Republican grassroots during the 2008 election cycle, will announce the formation of a presidential exploratory committee in Des Moines, Iowa on Tuesday, a source close to Paul confirmed to ABC News.

Paul, the Texas Republican with a libertarian slant, still has a devoted online following that has stuck with him since his failed attempt at the GOP nomination three years ago.

Paul’s got some company on the libertarian front this time around -- the like-minded former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson announced last week that he was jumping into the presidential race.

Congressman Paul’s announcement is scheduled for Tuesday afternoon at the Holiday Inn Airport in Des Moines.

He will also announce the support of three members of the Iowa Republican Party’s Central Committee at the event.

Paul has been traveling extensively in Iowa and other early nominating states recently. He is also scheduled to participate in the first GOP presidential primary debate on May 5 in South Carolina.

He’s also been busy fundraising. He took in $3 million during the first quarter of 2011 -- $1 million of that total came from his political action committee, LibertyPAC.

Paul will join former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, former Louisiana Gov. Buddy Roemer and former Godfather’s Pizza CEO Herman Cain in establishing an exploratory committee.

Paul finished tied for fifth in the latest ABC News-Washington Post poll of potential Republican candidates. In the poll, out last week, Paul received two percent support from leaning Republicans -- the same as former House Speaker Newt Gingrich. Romney, Donald Trump, Mike Huckabee and Sarah Palin finished ahead of Paul and Gingrich.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio 


Boehner to Obama: 'Come on! Time to Grow Up' About Deficit and Taxes

SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images(GREENVILLE, Ohio) -- House Speaker John Boehner said President Obama needs to "grow up" in talks over deficit reduction.

During an interview with ABC News in his Ohio district Monday, Boehner said he personally trusts the president, but accused him of not being honest with Americans about taxes, Medicare and deficit reduction.

The topic was the bipartisan deficit commission, which was appointed by the president and issued a controversial report late last year recommending tough spending cuts, tax reforms and reforming Medicare and Social Security.

"While I didn't agree with everything they did, there was a lot in their proposal that was worth of consideration. And what did the president do? He took exactly none of his own deficit reduction commission's ideas. Not one. Come on! It's time to grow up and get serious about the problems that face our country," Boehner said.

Despite that, Boehner said that he trusts the president and was prepared to negotiate with him on how to resolve the budget problems.

"I get along with him fine," he said. "I wouldn't say we're close friends, but it's -- we're polite. We get along fine. We look each other in the eye and we're straight and honest with each other."

But Boehner accused the president of not being "honest with the American people." He said he still felt Obama said one thing about deficit reduction behind closed doors and then demonized Republicans during a speech directing Congress to use the deficit commission and come up with concrete proposals.

Boehner said he understands that Americans support higher taxes for the rich, but that would hurt the economy, he said, and be unfair. He argued that Republicans, at least, have a plan -- the Paul Ryan budget, which all but four House Republicans supported this month.

But Boehner took issue with Democrats' argument that it would "end Medicare as we know it," which he dismissed as "Democrat talk." He pointed out that Ryan's proposal would change Medicare to a more market-based system for people under 55 -- one that bears similarities to the health reform law passed last year by Democrats.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


White House Calls Rev. Graham’s Comments on the President 'Preposterous'

ABC News (WASHINGTON) -- The White House on Monday said it was “unfortunate” that Rev. Franklin Graham made “preposterous charges” about President Obama, especially on the Easter holiday.

“I would just say I think it's unfortunate that a religious leader would choose Easter Sunday to make preposterous charges. And I'll leave it at that,” White House press secretary Jay Carney said, when asked about the comments at Monday’s briefing.

On Sunday, Graham told ABC’s This Week with Christiane Amanpour that Mr. Obama "has some issues to deal with" in terms of proving his U.S. citizenship.

"He can solve this whole birth certificate issue pretty quickly," Graham said to ABC. "I was born in a hospital in Asheville, North Carolina, and I know that my records are there. You can probably even go and find out what room my mother was in when I was born. I don't know why he can't produce that." 

The Rev. Franklin Graham, whose family has served as spiritual advisers to numerous prominent political figures, said that businessman Donald Trump, who has brought up questions over President Obama’s citizenship himself, might be his candidate of choice in 2012.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Obama 2012 Campaign Manager Paints Challenging Picture for Supporters

SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- “Every single day when we wake up we oughta note this campaign’s gonna be won or lost by a single vote in a precinct,” President Obama’s 2012 campaign manager, Jim Messina, says in a video emailed to supporters Monday.

Messina says the president is not going to run like an incumbent but rather like an insurgent, and he outlines many reasons -- from Republican enthusiasm to the uniqueness of the 2008 campaign -- as to why this campaign will be tougher. The video is typical of the kind that former 2008 campaign manager David Plouffe, currently a White House senior adviser, used to send to supporters in an attempt to make them feel included in strategy.

Cautioning that the landscape will be more challenging this year, Messina notes that Republican outside groups are planning to increase their involvement in the campaign, taking advantage of rules relaxed by the Supreme Court’s Citizen United ruling. Referring to a New York Times story about the conservative group American Crossroads, Messina says, “They’ve already announced a $120 million campaign to defeat your president. We have to compete with that.”

Messina acknowledges that the GOP will have enthusiasm. “Republicans are going to be fired up to take on President Obama,” he says.

President Obama has told friends that 2008 was a unique “lightning in a bottle” campaign, and almost wistfully Messina says that the 2008 campaign “was the most special thing a lot of us have ever been a part of” but if they run the same campaign in 2012 “we stand a good chance of losing.”

In the roughly six-minute video presentation, Messina say the keys to re-election are expanding the electorate, building something new, growing the grassroots in the states, measuring progress and working for every vote.

After asking supporters to join the “I’M IN” campaign, in which they announce that they’re onboard with the president’s re-election effort and reach out to colleagues, neighbors, Twitter followers, Facebook friends and pals on email, Messina talks about the importance of building teams, contacting voters, and running a metrics-driven campaign where door knocks, phone calls and other activities are measured.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Haley Barbour: I Will Not Be a Candidate for President in 2012

JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images(JACKSON, Miss.) -- Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour has elected not to run for president in 2012.

In a statement on Monday, the governor called his decision “difficult,” and said that he appreciated the efforts of his supporters who “offered both to give and raise money for a presidential campaign.” Barbour said that, “If I have disappointed any of them in this decision, I sincerely regret it.”

“A candidate for president today is embracing a 10-year commitment to an all-consuming effort, to the virtual exclusion of all else,” Barbour said.  “His (or her) supporters expect and deserve no less than absolute fire in the belly from their candidate.  I cannot offer that with certainty, and total certainty is required.”

Barbour vowed to fight “to elect a new Republican president in 2012, as the stakes for the nation require that effort to be successful.”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Pentagon Terminates Controversial Jet Engine

Digital Vision/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- The Pentagon announced Monday it has stopped payment on a controversial fighterjet engine program that military brass long decried as a boondoggle but had thrived for years anyway with the backing of powerful leaders in Congress and a push from a brigade of well-connected lobbyists.

"The Department of Defense today notified the General Electric/Rolls Royce Fighter Engine Team and the Congress that the F136 Joint Strike Fighter engine contract has been terminated," a Defense Department release said Monday. "The stop work order ended the expenditure of $1 million per day on an extra engine that the [Pentagon] has assessed as unneeded and wasteful."

The statement was intended to bring finality to a decision that has for years been grist for an intensive public relations and lobbying war inside Washington. President Obama identified the engine, being developed jointly by General Electric and Rolls Royce, as a symbol of wasteful spending. He and others decried it as an unnecessary duplication of work already contracted to Pratt & Whitney, which had been tapped to design the propulsion system for the next generation of American fighter jets, known as the Joint Strike Fighter.

"The Bush administration opposed this engine. The Obama administration opposes it. We have recommended for several years now against funding this engine, considering it a waste of money," Defense Secretary Robert Gates told reporters last May. "To argue that we should add another $3 billion in what we regard as waste...frankly, I don't track the logic."

The Pentagon and the president repeatedly called for the program to be cut from the budget, but Congress always responded by setting aside more money for the project. Supporters of the alternate engine said taxpayers would benefit by having two defense contractors competing to develop propulsion systems for the fighter jet. Over the long haul, they said, the competition would force the price down and produce overall savings.

Critics disputed that argument, saying the development of two engines represented an enormous extra expense with no guarantee that it would yield savings. They also accused GE and Rolls Royce of exploiting their presence in key congressional districts around the country -- factories doing work on the engine are located within a few miles of districts held by House Speaker John Boehner, R.-Ohio, and Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R.-Virginia.

The competing arguments helped fuel one of the most costly lobbying and PR campaigns in Washington in recent memory. The clash came to a head earlier this year as congressional leaders and the president negotiated the final details of the 2011 budget under a threat of a government shutdown. The engine project wound up on the cutting room floor.

GE, which according to the Center for Responsive Politics has spent more on lobbying over the past decade than any other American company, vowed Monday to continue to work on the project in the hopes it could be revived as Congress takes up the 2012 budget.

"While we are deeply disappointed by the DoD's 'Notice of Termination,' GE and Rolls-Royce remain committed to the [engine] and the significant benefits it brings to the American taxpayer and our fighting men and women," GE spokesman Rick Kennedy said in an email to ABC News.

"GE and Rolls-Royce will work closely with our Congressional supporters during the 2012 budget process in pursuit of incorporating the engine into the program, and preserving competition," Kennedy said. "We continue to be encouraged by the bi-partisan support for the engine on the merits of its performance and value. There is a significant willingness in Congress to revisit the [engine] funding debate as the consequences of terminating the engine are being fully understood."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio