So maybe it wasn’t the best timing in the world: Even as House Republicans face tough questions at their town hall meetings about Rep. Paul Ryan’s budget plan, Speaker John Boehner has given an interview in which he said Ryan’s plan was an idea “worthy of consideration” and that he wasn’t “wedded to it.”
Democrats and liberal groups said Boehner’s comments to ABC News, in an interview posted Tuesday afternoon, make it sound like he’s backpedaling from the House vote two weeks ago in which all but four Republicans voted for Ryan’s budget plan — including the Medicare overhaul that’s raising so many questions at their town hall meetings.
“I voted for it. I’m for it. It’s our idea,” Boehner said. But then he added: “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. Where’s the president’s plan to deal with the nightmare that’s facing Americans?”
Technically, Ryan’s plan is only a non-binding spending blueprint, and is just the start of a longer process that would be needed to make the actual changes, including legislation in more House committees and negotiations with the Senate and the White House.
But it’s not clear that any of the other steps would actually happen, since officials at the House Ways and Means Committee — which would have to write the legislation to change Medicare — declined to say whether or when the panel will do so.
The group Americans United for Change, which has been running ads against Ryan and other Republicans who voted for the budget, quickly circulated Boehner’s comments in an email chiding the speaker: “Sorry Speaker Boehner, there’s no ‘take-backs’ or distancing from this one — you and the 224 other House Republicans that voted for the Ryan plan for turning Medicare into Coupon Care now own it.”
And Nadeam Elshami, a spokesman for Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, said “the vote was clear in his support for the proposal” and that Boehner “sold it to his conference as an answer to these problems.”…snip…
Ryan’s office didn’t respond to requests for comment, but Boehner spokesman Michael Steel insisted the interview wasn’t intended to back off of his support for the Ryan plan.