The House passed Rep. Paul Ryan's "Path to Prosperity" budget Thursday along party lines. Republicans lost ten members, but Ryan was happy with the outcome telling Fox News Host Greta Van Susteren, "We had an extremely good vote count, very unanimous, you know party consensus, I would say."
Without a single Democratic vote in the House, the bill is doomed in the Democratic-controlled Senate. Party leaders believe it presents a stark contrast between the two parties in a pivotal election year.
The president's budget was brought to the floor Wednesday night by the Republicans to show how few votes the budget might get. A tactic last employed in 2000 with President Clinton's budget, Democrats cried foul and accused the GOP of forcing the vote as a political stunt. Ryan disagrees that it was just a stunt because it illustrated the difference between the two parties.
"Let's give the country a choice. Let's have a vote on the various visions of government for the country, the president's budget which he's given and the Republican vision. Now, we've shown -- we weren't planning on voting for it, but I thought surely some Democrats might vote for the president's budget, and none of them wanted to vote for it."
Ryan's budget has mixed support from the GOP hopefuls. Former governor Mitt Romney, an early supporter of the bill, released a statement congratulating the House on "unanimously" rejecting President Obama's budget. "The House budget and my own plan share the same path forward: pro-growth tax cuts, getting federal spending under control, and strengthening entitlement programs for future generations. I look forward to working with congress to achieve fiscal discipline and passing a budget that move us toward a simpler, smarter, and smaller federal government."
At a campaign event Thursday, former senator Rick Santorum indicated he did not fully support the Ryan plan because it did not go far enough with cuts. Santorum explained to a rally in California, that while Ryan had a great plan, "it's five trillion dollars in cuts over 10 years; we need five trillion dollars in cuts in five years, if we are going to balance this budget." Santorum was a strong supporter of Ryan's budget last year.
Speaker Gingrich was lampooned last year for describing part of Ryan's budget as "social engineering." He disagreed with creating a Medicare voucher system but is very excited about this year's version. Gingrich explained to a Milwaukee crowd Thursday night that he had a long talk with Ryan about their differences. "What he's introduced this year is dramatically better, very defendable" than the previous plan, Gingrich said. "I admire both his intelligence and his courage because he's doing a lot of things."
While Rep. Ron Paul voted no last year on Paul Ryan's budget, he missed this year's vote to attend a campaign event in Wisconsin. In a statement, he sympathized with Ryan's "aim in reducing federal debt, reforming entitlements while protecting those who currently depend on them, and reducing taxes."
However the plan did not go far enough to win the Texas congressman's full support. "The Ryan budget reduces the federal government's debt burden by trillions of dollars yet it does so in decades and not immediately, as our severe debt crisis warrants." Paul touts his ‘Plan to Restore America' instead as an "economic blueprint that cuts federal spending by $1 trillion in year one, and balances the federal budget in year three."
Reportedly, Ryan will endorse Romney before Tuesday's Wisconsin primary, and he told Van Susteren Thursday night, "I've been so focused on this budget, I'm not really sure what's going to happen. But I bet it's going to be pretty close."