GOP Presidential Hopefuls Sing Praise for Ryan's 2012 Budget Proposal

Comstock Images/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Republican Paul Ryan’s controversial and transformative budget proposal would remake Medicare and Medicaid and cut $5.8 trillion in spending over the next 10 years. It was immediately rejected by Democrats and President Obama.

White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said the President respects the goal of lowering the deficit, but said Ryan’s budget proposal does so by cutting taxes for millionaires while placing a “greater burden” on seniors and the disabled.

Potential GOP presidential candidates uniformly praised Ryan for the breadth of his proposal. They are quick to praise the budget chairman, though most notably avoid discussing -- or embracing -- any specifics. Here’s what some White House hopefuls are saying about Ryan’s “Path to Prosperity.”

    * Former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty: “Thanks to Paul Ryan in Congress, the American people finally have someone offering real leadership in Washington. President Obama has failed to lead and make tough choices his entire time in the White House. While the budget is going to be debated for several months to come, the more immediate issue we face is President Obama’s plans to raise the debt ceiling next month. That's a really bad idea. With over $14 trillion debt already, we should not allow Washington’s big spenders to put us further in the hole. We must get our fiscal house in order with real spending cuts and with real structural reforms that stop the spending spree before it bankrupts our country.”

    * Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney: “I applaud Rep. Paul Ryan for recognizing the looming financial crisis that faces our nation and for the creative and bold thinking that he brings to the debate. He is setting the right tone for finally getting spending and entitlements under control. Anyone who has read my book knows that we are on the same page.”

    * Former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum: "I commend Chairman Ryan's long-term budget proposal that tackles entitlement programs, particularly his proposed reforms of the Medicaid program…I also believe the Republicans' approach to reforming Medicare is right on target to streamline the program, reduce waste and allow future Medicare beneficiaries to have more of a say in the needs of their benefits with a market driven approach.  And with over $6 trillion in spending cuts, Congressional Republicans are making the tough choices in the short and long-term to bring the Federal budget under control, and I urge the American people to stand with them in the face of Democratic party obstructionism."

    * Former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin on Twitter: @SarahPalinUSA "There is hope! Serious & necessary leadership rolls out serious & necessary reform proposal. Good start."

    * Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee in a statement on his website Monday: “Whatever details are in the Republican proposal, one thing is for sure - getting rid of Obamacare would be a giant step in the right direction...As a firm believer in limited government, spending cuts must be made to save this nation.”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Rep. Pence: 'Shut it Down' if Democrats Won't Agree to Cuts

ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- As the federal spending clock ticks down a possible government shutdown on Friday, Republicans are claiming that a failure to keep the government running would be Democrats’ fault, arguing that such a scenario would only come about if Democrats don’t agree to sufficient spending cuts.

But several prominent Republicans are also threatening to vote against any budget deal that in their view doesn’t go far enough in slashing spending.

Rep. Mike Pence, R-Ind., told ABC News Tuesday that if the only alternative is continuing spending at unsustainable levels, “then I say shut it down.”

“Nobody wants to shut down the federal government. But if we don't take decisive efforts to change the fiscal direction of this national government, we're going to shut down the future for our children and grandchildren, and that would be decidedly worse,” Pence said.

“Look -- if liberals in the Senate and in this administration want to continue to play political games instead of accepting very modest budget cuts, then if they'd rather embrace a government shutdown than make a down payment on fiscal responsibility, then I say shut it down. And I still feel very strongly that way.”

Pence said Republicans should stand behind their proposal to cut $61 billion from this year’s spending bills -- and to insist on denying federal funding for Planned Parenthood, as the House voted to do last month.

“I think that's where we draw the line. We dig in and we say, this far and no further,” Pence said. “Things don't change in Washington, D.C., until they have to. And that's why I think that if the administration and liberals in the Senate don't want to come in our direction and accept that modest down payment on fiscal discipline, then let's just have it out.”

Pence also had praise for the budget proposal put forward Tuesday by House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wis., while adding that he’ll probably also throw his support behind a measure that would enact even deeper cuts.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


President Obama to Hold Facebook Town Hall Meeting

ABC News Radio (WASHINGTON) -- From Facebook headquarters in Palo Alto, California, President Obama will hold a “Facebook Live” online town hall on April 20.

Everyone is invited to the meeting, but there’s no need to travel to California to participate. That’s because the meeting will be taking place completely on the Internet and will be streamed live on Facebook and on the White House website.

Participants can post questions for the president on the event’s Facebook wall, and Facebook will be selecting questions during the event.

For those who don’t have a Facebook account, the White House also has a form on its website that people can use to submit questions.

The White House says the economy and the budget are the focus of the town hall.

“The President will connect with Americans across the country to discuss the tough choices we must all make to put our economy on a more responsible fiscal path, while still investing in the innovation economy that makes America more competitive,” says the announcement posted on Facebook Tuesday.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and COO Sheryl Sandberg will join the president at the meeting.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio 


Donald Trump to Get Behind the Wheel at Indy 500

Mike Stobe/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Donald Trump may not have announced a bid for president in 2012, but he’s about to amp up his exposure among conservative auto racing fans at one of the sport’s biggest events of the year. 

The real estate mogul and reality show star said Tuesday that he’ll be behind the wheel of a Chevy Camaro convertible pace car during the 100th anniversary of the Indianapolis 500 on May 29.

“The first thing I said to myself is, ‘Hey, do they pay me for this or not?’” Trump joked about the invitation to drive. “I called a couple of friends of mine and they said, ‘No, Donald, this is a great honor. They don’t pay you.’”

Trump, who said he has a driver’s license and considers driving a “great luxury,” could top speeds of 140 miles per hour whipping around the Indiana racetrack.

And what about that famous hair?  “It is as you know, it is my hair. It will be messy,” The Donald told ESPN’s Jamie Little.  He also said he’d probably have to wear a hat.

But the bigger question about Trump’s appearance at Indy may be whether he’ll also have started the ignition on a 2012 presidential campaign. Trump told ABC News last month that he would make a final decision on a run “prior to June” -- a message he echoed Tuesday.

“I hate what happening to the country. I see the other nations of the world, whether its OPEC as group or China, just ripping this country to shreds, they’re taking our jobs, they’re taking our money, they’re doing things we do nothing about,” he told Little. “So I will make a decision sometime prior to June.”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Obama: No Time For Games on 2011 Spending Bill

ABC News (file)(WASHINGTON) -- President Obama made a rare appearance in the White House briefing room Tuesday to push members of Congress to come together on a plan to fund the government until September, painting a stark picture of what would happen if there's a shut down Friday.

"At a time when the economy is just beginning to grow...the last thing we need is a disruption that's caused by a government shutdown, not to mention all the people who depend on government services," the president said. "It would be inexcusable for us to not be able to take care of last year's business...when we are this close, simply because of politics."

Obama, who met with Democratic and Republican leaders at the White House on Tuesday, said he is ready to meet again Wednesday if lawmakers can't find a resolution.

Americans "don't like these games and we don't have time for them," the president said.

Days away from the deadline, Republicans and Democrats are at a stalemate over what should be cut in the remainder of the fiscal 2011 budget, and Tuesday's meeting bore little fruit, signaling that the government could be one step closer to a shutdown.

Federal agencies have put together contingency plans in the case of a shutdown, which last happened 15 years ago during the Clinton administration, in 1996.

White House officials have started telling agency and cabinet officials to begin informing managers about shutdown plans.

Government shutdowns are not a new phenomenon, though their effects vary depending on the country's economic and political situation.

There were six government shutdowns between 1977 and 1980, ranging from eight to 17 days, according to the Congressional Research Service. From 1981-1995, there were nine such occurrences, lasting three days each.

The longest government shutdown was during President Clinton's administration in 1995 and 1996, when it lasted for 21 days and paralyzed important government functions.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Tim Kaine Announces Virginia Senate Bid

Brendan Hoffman/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- It might have been the worst-kept secret in Washington in recent weeks, and on Tuesday it was a secret no more: Democratic National Committee Chairman Tim Kaine is running for Senate in Virginia.

Kaine, who served as governor of Virginia from 2006-2010 before President Obama asked him to head the DNC, made the announcement in a video message to supporters.

“I’m running for the United States Senate because America has big challenges, and I’m convinced that Virginia has answers to help strengthen our nation” Kaine said. “While we still have a lot of work to do to help Virginians who are struggling, I know Washington can learn a few things from Virginia.”

Democrats have long viewed Kaine as their best chance to keep the Virginia seat that Sen. Jim Webb is vacating in their hands. Kaine could face another former governor, George Allen, a Republican who announced in January that he would seek the seat.

Democrats, including President Obama, have been not-so-subtly pushing Kaine to run. At a recent fundraiser in New York City, the president referred to the rumors that Kaine "might plunge back into electoral politics."

“If he does,” Obama said, “I want even people up here to be paying attention and to be rooting for him.”

Kaine's coming departure from his job at the DNC, also means that President Obama will soon have to name a replacement. Former Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland and Florida Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz are among those who have been mentioned as possible contenders for the job.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Senate Passes Repeal of 1099 Requirement, Bill Heads to White House

Creatas Images/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) --   In the first rollback of the Obama administration’s healthcare reform law, the Senate on Tuesday voted to repeal the healthcare reform provision that requires every business to file a 1099 form with the IRS any time it spends more than $600 with another business in a year. The vote tally was 87-12.

“As the president said during the State of the Union, we are open to working with Republicans and Democrats to improve the health reform law and we are pleased Congress has acted to correct a flaw that placed an unnecessary bookkeeping burden on small businesses,” said White House Press Secretary Jay Carney.

“Small businesses are the engine of our economy and eliminating the 1099 reporting requirement is the right thing to do,” Carney said. “As we move forward, we look forward to improving the tax credit policy in this legislation to ensure we protect small businesses and middle-class families. “

Sen. Mike Johanns, R-Neb., called the repeal “a victory” when he spoke to reporters Tuesday afternoon.

The bill now heads to the White House for President Obama’s signature.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Reaction Streams In to GOP Budget Proposal

ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- Republican Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan unveiled a budget Tuesday for 2012 that would cut government spending by $6.2 trillion more over the next 10 years than the one President Obama released last month.

Ryan says his plan would save money by changing the Medicaid program for the poor, ending corporate welfare, eliminating Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and reducing discretionary spending to below 2008 levels.

Even with these cuts, the budget would not be balanced by the year 2021.

To address the long-term problem, the Ryan plan would transform the Medicare program beginning in the year 2022, changing it from a government-run system that pays health bills for seniors into a system under which seniors buy insurance plans subsidized by the federal government.

The Senate’s top Republican Mitch McConnell praised Ryan’s budget proposal as “a serious and detailed plan” and ripped Democrats for opting to “sit on their hands” and “take potshots at these proposals from the sidelines.”

“Anybody can say that our nation’s problems need to be addressed — but history will show that Chairman Ryan is one of those who actually stepped up to do it. And he should be applauded for that by people of good will on both sides,” McConnell said on the Senate floor.

Likely GOP presidential hopeful Tim Pawlenty responded to Ryan’s proposal Tuesday, saying that thanks to the budget chairman’s leadership, “the American people finally have someone offering real leadership in Washington” and said that President Obama has “failed to lead and make tough choices.”

Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., called Ryan’s plan “thinly veiled.”

“We need to do everything possible to responsibly reduce our debt, but we should do that by holding government accountable and eliminating programs that aren’t working, not by putting all of the burden on middle class families and seniors,” she said.

Stabenow said the Republican budget would “dismantle Medicare for tens of millions of Americans.”

“Pulling the rug out from under seniors who have paid into Medicare and Social Security their entire lives is wrong, and extreme plans that dismantle benefits seniors have earned will not pass the Senate.”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


White House Officials: Prepare for Shutdown, Just in Case

Comstock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- White House officials have started telling agency and cabinet officials to begin informing managers about shutdown plans -- just in case.

White House officials caution that such steps would be in motion at this point, regardless of how well the negotiations were going to avert a government shutdown before Friday.  But make no mistake: negotiations are not going well.

“We are aware of the calendar, and to be prudent and prepare for the chance that Congress may not pass a funding bill in time, the Office of Management and Budget [Tuesday] encouraged agency heads to begin sharing their contingency plans with senior managers throughout their organization to ensure that they have their feedback and input,” OMB spokesman Ken Baer told ABC News.  “As the week progresses, we will continue to take necessary steps to prepare for the possibility that Congress is unable to come to agreement and a lapse in government funding ensues.”

President Obama Tuesday morning will host congressional leaders at the White House to try to cobble together a compromise for a short term budget to avoid a shutdown.

Democrats close to the process complain the biggest problem is that Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, simply does not control his unruly caucus, so negotiating is extremely difficult.

But be forewarned: this is just act one of a much longer play.  The next act will be the debate over raising the debt ceiling.

In a letter to congressional leaders Monday, Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner warned that the debt ceiling must be raised no later than May 16.  Defaulting “would cause a financial crisis potentially more severe than the crisis from which we are only now starting to recover,” he wrote.

Following that will be the larger debate over debt and deficits, with Rep. Paul Ryan’s budget -- introduced Tuesday -- serving as the opening GOP salvo.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


President Obama to Meet with Israeli President on Mideast Peace

ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- President Obama will meet with Israeli President Shimon Peres Tuesday to discuss revolutions and protests in the Mideast and how peace in Israel can be achieved.

President Peres is expected to tell Obama in detail about the new peace intiative Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is working on and ask for his input in return.

Some Israeli lawmakers have expressed renewed doubts that peace can be achieved while their region is wracked with so much political upheaval.  But others have said solving the conflict with the Palestinians now will help forge peaceful ties with the next crop of Arab leaders and regimes that emerge, and Peres will try to convey that message.

Tuesday's meeting comes a day after Israeli officials announced more Israeli housing construction in the contested areas, which the United States said they are "deeply concerned" with.

"Not only are continued Israeli settlements illegitimate, Israel’s actions run counter to efforts to resume direct negotiations," White House National Security Staff spokesman Tommy Vietor said Monday in a statement.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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