Paul Ryan: Dems ‘not engaging’ GOP in payroll tax talks

Chairman of the House Budget Committee Rep. Paul Ryan on Sunday blasted Democrats, accusing them of not working in good faith with congressional Republicans on an extension to the payroll tax holiday.

“The president's party leaders are more or less not engaging in these conversations,” said Ryan on ABC’s This Week of efforts to find a compromise on paying for the tax-break extension.

“We have offered literally scores of different offsets. We've taken provisions from the president's own budget as ways of paying for this payroll tax holiday, yet they continue to insist on not agreeing to those kinds of things.”

The Wisconsin lawmaker though expressed optimism that there would eventually be a deal but blamed Democratic obstructionism for the delay. “I do believe this will get extended,” he predicted.

“But when we make offer after offer based on policies that we know Democrats and the president have supported in the past, yet they still insist on not coming to agreement, it's difficult to see exactly how this is going to pan out.”

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Ryan also defended himself in the face of continued Democratic attacks on his proposed Medicare reforms. Last year, Obama ripped Ryan's proposals as a plan that would "end Medicare as we know it."

Ryan said he was not concerned his proposals on Medicare could cost the House GOP seats in 2012. “We're taking responsibility for dealing with the drivers of our debt,” he said. 

This year, Ryan is working on a new bipartisan plan to reform Medicare with Democratic Sen. Ron Wyden (Ore.). Their plan would likely allow seniors the choice of continuing with traditional Medicare or accepting subsidies to buy private health insurance.

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“Ron Wyden and I are working on a plan to save and strengthen the program to keep the Medicare guarantee for current and future seniors,” said Ryan.  “And what we're showing is that there's a consensus on how best to save Medicare. Unfortunately, the president and his party leaders, they're not a part of this conversation. And that to me is very disappointing.”

Ryan was also asked by ABC host George Stephanopoulos about a new Gallup poll showing Congress with a low 10 percent approval rating. 

“There’s nowhere to go but up, I guess,” said Ryan. He added that voters would realize there was a difference between the Democrat-controlled Senate and the GOP House. 

“When they look at what we're actually doing, the House is acting and the Senate is sitting on their hands playing partisan politics,” he said.

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