While many congressional Republicans are running away from the very unpopular cuts in Donald Trump's budget, Speaker Paul Ryan admits the proposal reflects long-standing Republican values and is "right on the target."
The Trump budget’s draconian cuts for services for the poor and middle class target popular government programs like Medicaid and Social Security, as well as funding for groups like PBS and Special Olympics that are supported by a large swath of Americans.
So Republicans have responded by attempting to distance themselves from the budget, fearful of getting the stench of unpopularity on them.
But not House Speaker Paul Ryan.
During an appearance on Fox News, where conservatives have carved out a safe space where they are rarely challenged, Ryan gave up the game and admitted that the budget reflects the priorities and morals that Ryan and other Republicans long have stood for.
“The aspiration of the goal,” Ryan told Fox’s Martha MacCallum, “is right on the target.”
RYAN: There’s a bigger point to be made here and I don’t think we should lose this point and that is for the first time in eight years, we actually have a president now who is proposing we balance the budget. We’ve never had that, with Obama. He never even tried to balance the budget, let alone even proposed to balance the budget.
So we now have a president saying, “I agree with congressional Republicans, let’s balance the budget.” And so, what I see is a president keeping his promises. He’s putting more funds for veterans, for the military. Big things he prioritized in the campaign. He’s emphasizing infrastructure and then he’s saying we need pro-growth tax reform to get the economy going and let’s balance the budget.
And so, you can quarrel over the details, I’ve written a lot of budgets, everyone quarrels over the details but the aspiration of the goal is right on the target.
For years in Congress, Ryan pushed a “roadmap” budget that shared the Trump’s budget tilt against the poor and vulnerable and in favor of the ultra-wealthy.
Ryan’s “Roadmap For America’s Future” laid the groundwork for the reality of the Trump budget, and while it appears Ryan’s dreams of running for president and implementing the plan is on hold, the legacy lives on with Trump.
Despite protests from his fellow Republicans, Trump’s budget is the embodiment of the conservative ideals the right has been pushing for decades. Like so much of what they stand for, it is supported by a small sliver of the electorate, as even everyday Republicans flinch at the severity of the cuts to social services it embodies.
Instead, when Republicans run for office, they pay lip service to being compassionate, as Trump did. They lie about supporting programs like Social Security, hoping that their plans to cut services are obscured by the boredom of legislative sausage-making.
But Paul Ryan and his tin ear have given up the game plan again. This is what Republicans support, and it is who they are, with or without Trump.