I don't think there's much doubt that Paul Ryan is trying to position himself as VP material, and there's also not much doubt that talk show bobbleheads aren't going to push him all that much on his entitlement double talk - either because they don't especially care, or are just that dim. Witness this exchange today on This Week with George Stephanopoulos, in which he embraces the classic Beltway journalists' "View From Nowhere": "Some say it's premium support, some call it a voucher." Really, George, how much trouble would it have been for YOU to do your freakin' job and explain that what we're really talking about are Groupons for healthcare? How much money does ABC News pay you to sit and nod at this crap?
STEPHANOPOULOS: And let's get more on this now with Paul Ryan, the chairman of the House Budget Committee. He comes to us from Wisconsin this morning.
You just heard Jack Lew right there, Congressman, say that Congress should just get this payroll tax extension done. Will they?
RYAN: Well, I think we will, but what we're trying to do is simply cut spending to pay for it. You've got to remember, George, that this payroll tax holiday loses money to the Social Security Trust Fund. And if you just extend this without paying for it by cutting spending, then you're accelerating the bankruptcy of Social Security. That's all we want to do, is make sure that Social Security is left unharmed while we extend this payroll tax holiday.
Yes, because we all know how determined Republicans are to save Social Security.
STEPHANOPOULOS: But -- and the White House agrees with that, but the point is, it seems like you're stuck on how to pay for this extension.
RYAN: Yeah, it seems as if the parties -- the president's party leaders are more or less not engaging in these conversations. We have offered literally scores of different offsets. We've taken provisions from the president's own budget as ways of paying for this payroll tax holiday, yet they continue to insist on not agreeing to those kinds of things.
So I don't know where this is going to come down to it. I do believe this will get extended. But when we make offer after offer based on policies that we know Democrats and the president have supported in the past, yet they still insist on not coming to agreement, it's difficult to see exactly how this is going to pan out.
Oh, you mean the part about raising revenues? Yes, funny how "stuck" Republicans are on this one issue, thanks to Pope Grover.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Let's get to the broader budget. You heard Jack Lew there say that they have $2.50 of spending reductions for every tax increase. And the White House and Democrats have really targeted your plan to reform Medicare, this -- what you call premium support, they say it's a voucher system. I want to show right here the -- the ad put out, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, saying just when you thought Medicare was safe, they are back. They're saying that your plan is going to end Medicare as we know it.
Are you concerned that this -- this attack -- and we've heard Republicans pick it up, as well -- could end up costing your House majority?
RYAN: No, I'm really not concerned about that, actually, George, because we're taking responsibility for dealing with the drivers of our debt. You have to remember, George, that Medicare is going bankrupt, that the president's health care law puts a board of 15 unaccountable bureaucrats in charge of cutting Medicare, which will lead to denied care for seniors. The president's health care law takes the $500 billion from Medicare to spend on Obamacare.
And so I think when you actually look at what we're proposing, we're showing that there's a bipartisan consensus in Congress on how to preserve the Medicare guarantee, how to save and strengthen the program. We don't change any benefit for anybody 55 and above, and we save this guarantee for younger generations so they can actually count on it.
Yes, you guarantee that they will go back to the Dark Ages pre-Medicare where old, sick people just curled up and died!
So when the dust settles and people see actually what we're doing, how we're promoting bipartisan solutions, I think we're going to be fine.
STEPHANOPOULOS: But in response to some...
RYAN: I think it's irresponsible not to. Go ahead.
STEPHANOPOULOS: In response to some of the criticism, you have also come up with a new plan with Senator Ron Wyden, a Democrat, to allow people to have the choice of either taking the premium support program or sticking with traditional Medicare.
RYAN: That's right.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Will that be part of your new budget?
RYAN: Well, we haven't written the budget yet. That comes out in spring. But what we're showing is that there are bipartisan leaders in Congress who have worked together, just like they did in the 1990s when it was called Breaux-Frist at that time. Alice Rivlin's been a champion of this idea. And Ron Wyden and I are working on a plan to save and strengthen the program to keep the Medicare guarantee for current and future seniors. And what we're showing is that there's a consensus on how best to save Medicare. Unfortunately, the president and his party leaders, they're not a part of this conversation. And that to me is very disappointing.