WASHINGTON -- Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) said on Sunday that there was no chance for a so-called "grand bargain" between now and the end of President Obama's term.
The president and House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) chased the elusive bargain over a series of stop-and-start negotiations, with Ryan occasionally playing the role of spoiler. Boehner has long hoped that he could negotiate such a deficit deal as the central part of his legacy as speaker, but prospects have dimmed and Ryan's flat-out declaration make it essentially impossible.
"I don't think with this president, or this Senate, we're going to have something like that," Ryan told Fox News Sunday's Chris Wallace when asked about a grand bargain. "That's why I think we need to win a couple of elections. [The recent small budget deal] I believe helps us better do that. It's good for the country, it allows us to focus on our Obamacare oversight. It allows us to focus on laying out our conservative vision for 2014."
Ryan, the House Budget Committee chairman, recently negotiated a small deal to keep the government open.
The president may or may not be willing to do a grand bargain, but it has often been the tea party wing's refusal to raise taxes as part of one that has stymied negotiations in the past. Ryan said that Republicans need to control the levers of executive power first. "We're going to have to win the White House to truly fix this country's fiscal problems," he said.
Over the past decade-plus, the federal government has waged two unpaid-for wars, cut taxes dramatically for the wealthy and bailed out Wall Street after a financial crisis. The government is now some $16 trillion in debt. In exchange for paying down some of that debt, lawmakers in both parties have proposed various ways of cutting social spending. And supporters of this "shared sacrifice" call this -- effectively redistributing wealth from the bottom and middle to the top -- a "grand bargain."