In an interview with the New York Times magazine, President Obama singled out Rep. Paul Ryan as a Republican who he "trusts enough to work with on economic issues." But when asked about the comments, Ryan said that in reality the two have such deep philisophical differences that he's doubtful they'd be able to find common ground.
"What I’m proposing is so antithetical to his ideology, that I’d just have a hard time believing he would embrace anything close to it," Ryan told TAS on Wednesday. "I’m proposing an individual-based society, reclaiming the founding principles of limited government; free enterprise society, where individuals are made more powerful and government is made more limited. He believes in the opposite of that."
When I spoke to Ryan, I read him the following comments from Obama:
“I think somebody like a Paul Ryan who has got a lot of attention is absolutely sincere about wanting to reduce the deficit. The problem is, is that the plan he’s put forward so far is about a trillion dollars short. The numbers don’t add up.
And even with those numbers being fudged, most of his Republican colleagues in the House have not been willing to sign on to what he’s suggesting, in part because he does significantly cut benefits in things like Medicare, which are politically difficult to do.
I give him credit for at least being willing to put out there some tough choices, although, as I said, even there, the numbers don’t quite match up the way they should.”
Ryan disputed this characterization of his "Roadmap" plan, noting that Obama relies on an analysis by the Tax Policy Center while he got his numbers from the Treasury Department. At the same time, Ryan said he has always been willing to adjust the tax reforms to meet revenue requirements, but the point of his plan was to focus on the spending side. (For more on Tax Policy Center's revenue analysis of the plan, check out my post from March.)
Beyond that, Ryan said he was "glad" Obama said what he did about his sincerity, but that he doesn't think Obama would suddenly abandon his worldview.
He also said that Obama "is prone to using these sort of Machiavellian tactics where the ends justify the means," noting the recent attacks on the Chamber of Commerce as an example.
And while Obama said during his famed performance at the House Republican retreat in January that lawmakers needed to stop demagoging entitlements, Ryan said that in reality Obama has "helped contribute to making it politically toxic.”
Ryan also said that he hasn't talked to the administration in about six months, when he spoke with former White House Budget Director Peter Orszag.
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