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After Senate's Medicare Vote, Ryan Remains Unbowed


In the aftermath of all this, we here at NPR were glad to have him visit the building this morning to take a few questions. And NPR's Andrea Seabrook was there.

ANDREA SEABROOK: Paul Ryan's budget is bold. Introducing him, NPR's senior Washington editor Ron Elving calls it the centerpiece of the conversation going on in Washington.

RON ELVING: The budget conversation and the larger definition of the federal government and its role of government in this society as a whole, has not just been a budget, really, but a manifesto; and not just a document, but a political event.

NORRIS: That was a good way of describing it. We wrote the budget this year intending it to be what you just described it.

SEABROOK: Ryan looks young and sharp.

NORRIS: I wrote it in a user-friendly way to try and include the country into a conversation about it's going to take to get our budget on a path of balance and our economy on a path to prosperity.

SEABROOK: He sits comfortably in his chair, leaning slightly into the mic.

NORRIS: The key that all the economists and all the bond people tell us is: confidence and trajectory.

SEABROOK: Ryan swoops his hand up into the air.

NORRIS: Is your debt going up, off the rails like it's currently projected to do?

SEABROOK: The hand sweeps back downward.

NORRIS: Or are you getting it under control and stabilized? We can do this and my point is, if we wait, if we allow politics to paralyze us, which is kind of what's going on right now, then we'll have a debt crisis.

SEABROOK: So, ALL THINGS CONSIDERED host Robert Siegel asked...


As you look forward, if you're going to reach an agreement with the Democrats that raises debt ceilings, avoids calamity, is there ultimately some room that you can imagine, for - from your standpoint - at least some nominal tax increase that gives the possibility for both sides to walk into a room and come out of a room and say, we got some of what we wanted here? Or is that absolutely...

NORRIS: I don't - yeah, I don't see it. And let me explain why, and this isn't a political thing. It's an economic belief. It's an economic doctrine thing.

SEABROOK: Congressional correspondent Audie Cornish pushed back.

AUDIE CORNISH: Do you believe that there is a compromise? Or are you guys basically holding the ball until the buzzer of 2012?

NORRIS: Compromise? We put dozens of the Simpson-Bowles recommendations in our budget.

CORNISH: The parts you like.

NORRIS: Yeah, the parts I like. Yeah, there are the parts...

CORNISH: That's not compromise. What about the parts you don't like?

NORRIS: Yeah, that's a good touche. We put out a plan, a very specific plan. If you want compromise, the people on the other side of the aisle need to put up a plan, as well. We're just negotiating with ourselves right now.

SEABROOK: Andrea Seabrook, NPR News, Washington. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Andrea Seabrook covers Capitol Hill as NPR's Congressional Correspondent.