GOP Squabble

Paul Ryan Angers Tea Partiers

By not mentioning Obamacare in a Wall Street Journal op-ed, Paul Ryan angered many on the right.

10.09.13 7:22 PM ET

Is Paul Ryan a RINO?

Some conservatives were howling over Ryan’s op-ed in the Wall Street Journal on Wednesday where the 2012 GOP vice presidential nominee and current chair of the House Budget Committee suggested his plan to solve the current stalemate in Washington over the government shutdown and debt ceiling.  Ryan suggested significant entitlement reform and specifically pointed to areas where he thinks Democrats and Republicans can find consensus. But, despite talking about ways to cut government spending and implement tax reform, the Wisconsin congressman angered tea partiers by not mentioning the word “Obamacare” once.

The result was immediate outrage. Erick Erickson saw this as Republican leaders selling out the base yet again, another blogger on Erickson’s site, Red State, called the op-ed “a confirmation of our worst fears . . This is the road to cave city.” The Senate Conservatives Fund, the Ted Cruz-backed right wing PAC, tweeted in rage at Paul Ryan “Obamacare is the #1 job killer and it will bankrupt our country. Your plan does nothing to stop it.” Ryan’s op-ed also met disapproval from Michael Needham, the CEO of Heritage Action who said at a breakfast on Wednesday morning “This is a fight about Obamacare. The attention of Republicans and conservatives needs to be back on Obamacare and not on other ways out of this situation.”

Ryan’s op-ed seems to mark an attempt by House leadership to try to find something that they can claim a substantive victory on with no possibility of Obama yielding by agreeing to repeal his most important accomplishment in office, the Affordable Care Act. While other symbolic tweaks to Obamacare have been mooted like repealing the medical device tax or the Vitter Amendment, entitlement reform is an important goal for the GOP that Obama signaled his willingness to consider in the past---most notably during the negotiations over a “grand bargain” in 2011. With Democrats already embracing the cuts from sequestration in any “clean CR”, Ryan’s proposal offers Republicans the opportunity to achieve even more political gains simply by agreeing to keep the government open and not to default on the national debt.

But, among many tea partiers, the goal isn’t to get Congress to pass spending cuts and entitlement reform, it is to end Obamacare. And it doesn’t seem like they would accept anything else, even from a onetime right wing matinee idol like Ryan.