Ryan: GOP faces messaging challenge in selling 2012 budget

Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) said Wednesday that Republicans are running into a "communications challenge" in selling their 2012 budget proposal to Americans. 

Ryan, the chairman of the House Budget Committee who authored the 2012 budget, acknowledged the GOP faces obstacles but pushed back against the notion that it is losing a communications battle against Democrats, who have assailed Ryan's proposal to significantly reform Medicare. 

"I wouldn't say we're losing the communications battle -- but we have a great communications challenge," the Wisconsin Republican said on Fox News.

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Democrats and outside liberal groups have loudly criticized the Ryan Medicare proposal, which would eventually transform Medicare into a kind of voucher program. Critics say the plan would threaten benefits for seniors and radically change the system into something unrecognizable from traditional Medicare. 

Democrats have started to run ads linking rank-and-file Republicans with the Ryan plan, especially in competitive districts where some lawmakers faced boisterous town hall meetings reminiscent of the August 2009 healthcare battles.

"Anything this big takes a while to sink in for people to understand," Ryan said. "As soon as people realize just how dire our fiscal situation is, and what our drivers are -- namely, our entitlement programs -- the more they're supportive of this."

Ryan also sought to downplay suggestions that Republicans face internal opposition to his Medicare proposal. A group of Senate Republicans left it out of their budget proposal released Tuesday, and Rep. Dave Camp (R-Mich.), said last week that he saw no point in moving forward with legislation to implement Ryan's plan.

The Budget panel chairman chalked up Camp's comment to a procedural misunderstanding.

"All that Dave Camp is acknowledging is, when you do entitlement reform, you have to have budget reconciliation that goes to the Senate. The Senate isn't even passing a budget, so we can't pass this into law if the Senate doesn't give us a budget," Ryan said. "That's what he's simply saying -- it's a process point, and not any other kind of a point."