WASHINGTON — President Obama comes to Capitol Hill on Wednesday to meet with House Republicans. Or, as Rep. Tom Price put it to me Tuesday, “Four years and two months into his term in office, it’s nice that he comes and visits us for a second time.”
Clearly, there are some trust issues between the two sides.
“Trust is the coin of the political realm, and you can’t do anything without trust,” the Roswell Republican continued. But he did leave an opening for optimism.
“Anything the president does to begin to build a foundation of trust is important. … We’re hopeful this is a sincere effort. But time will tell. A single meeting does not trust build.”
Price’s comments on both the limits of what can be accomplished in one meeting and the promise of even having a meeting were echoed by another Georgia Republican congressman.
“There are no words [Wednesday] that can bring us closer to a solution,” said Rep. Rob Woodall of Lawrenceville. “What we need are deeds. … I’m certain we have a [House Republican] conference that wants to do big things that matter. We just need a willing partner, and I have no doubt we’d be able to turn this corner for all Americans.”
Turning the corner, in Woodall’s view, means moving beyond the kind of spending cuts included in so-called sequestration.
“We’re spending less in discretionary [programs] — 10 percent less — than we spent on Jan. 3, 2011, when I arrived here” as a congressman, he said. “The only thing that matters is that [other] two-thirds of the budget: Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security.”
The House Budget Committee, chaired by former vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan with Price as vice chair, released its latest 10-year plan for taxes and spending on Tuesday. Price said the document details how the House GOP would balance the budget within a decade — including by completely defunding Obamacare, to the tune of $1.8 trillion over 10 years. In all, total federal health spending from 2014-2023 would be $10 trillion instead of $12.7 trillion, with savings also coming from the introduction of competition to Medicare and flexibility to states for their Medicaid programs.
But, Price added, the budget document is “more about why it is important” to rein in federal spending. Among the reasons he named: “to get the economy rolling again, job creation, opportunities for young people, a level of security for seniors that will be eroded if we continue to spend more than we take in.”
The House GOP budget, Price said, would mean “greater opportunity and growth, so that future generations can … enjoy the realization of their dreams as well.”
That budget isn’t going to become law as long as Obama remains president, not to mention while Democrats control the Senate. But Price was upbeat about the fact the Senate will be going through its budgeting process for the first time in four years, rather than relying on the extension of short-term measures (known as continuing resolutions).
“The days of having two or three or four people, behind closed doors, decide what they will push to be adopted by Congress, without any changes, I think those days are over,” Price said.
– By Kyle Wingfield