By Peter Schroeder - 08/13/12 07:48 PM EDT
Senate Budget Committee Chairman Kent Conrad (D-N.D.) likes his House counterpart, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) — just not his policies.
Conrad told CNBC on Monday that he personally likes Mitt Romney's vice presidential pick and that he is a "serious person," before describing his fiscal preferences as "pretty radical."
Conrad, like other Democrats, criticized Ryan's budget plan as providing the rich too many tax breaks while trimming benefits and increasing taxes on the middle and lower classes. In particular, he hit on Ryan for his plan to partially privatize Medicare.
"Basically, he destroys Medicare in order to, as he says, save it," he said.
Conrad also hit on Ryan for failing to back major bipartisan efforts to rein in the deficit in recent years, saying it was "probably the thing that concerns me most."
Ryan was one of seven votes in opposition to the Simpson-Bowles deficit-reduction plan crafted by the president's special deficit commission, alongside two other Republican lawmakers and four Democratic members of Congress. Andy Stern, the former president of the Service Employees International Union, was the other "nay" vote. While the plan garnered a majority of support from its 18 members, it failed short of the 14-vote super majority needed to bring it before Congress.
"Paul was one of the seven that said 'no,' because he didn't get just the way he wanted it," Conrad said. "Unfortunately, that's so much of what's wrong with Washington, people who are ideologues who say, 'If I don't get my way, I don't support it.' "
When Ryan announced his opposition to the plan in December 2010, he said he "could not support the plan in its entirety," while dubbing the fiscal commission a success.
"The task was extraordinarily difficult in an equally difficult environment," he said in a statement.