The press secretary for Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) is dismissing evidence that Ryan’s staff contributed to the closed-door drafting of the Washington’s controversial new $8 trillion, two-year budget.
It’s “liberal nonsense,” spokesman Brendan Buck told Breitbart News.
The Ryan connection to the budget plan was made by the left-leaning Huffington Post, which reported Tuesday that “one of [the plan’s] most important provisions makes changes to the Social Security Disability Insurance program, and some of those changes came from the House Ways and Means Committee, which oversees Social Security and which Ryan chairs.”
Ryan told reporters Tuesday morning that he hadn’t seen the budget deal yet, but that the secretive process used to draft the deal “stinks.”
That’s an important concession, because conservatives are calling for House leaders to stop the budget rush until legislators and voters can examine the secretly drafted $8 trillion budget plan.
Just a few hours after Ryan’s “stinks” comment, the Huffington Post post reported that “there’s stuff in the bill that should smell good and familiar to him.”
“Paul Ryan’s staff was involved in crafting the provision for weeks,” a Democratic aide told the Huffington Post. “His staff signed off on the provision, his staff also signed off on other key provisions.”
However, Ryan’s office denied that staff from his committee participated in the deal.
“The committee had been working on changes to disability benefits earlier this year; [Ryan’s spokesperson Buck] acknowledged that Ways and Means staff were aware the disability provision would be included,” the Huffington Post reporter, Arthur Delaney noted.
Negotiators “grabbed off the shelf what we’d been working on for months,” Buck told The Huffington Post. Ryan approves of the provision, Buck said, but he distanced Ryan from the unpopular, closed-door budget planning.
“We were aware of that, but not what all was being traded back and forth,” Buck said.
Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) — a senior member of the Senate Budget Committee — is calling on the House to delay vote on this deal, and slammed the disability language previously drafted by Ryan.
It appears this deal is built on the same principles as the Ryan-Murray budget deal from 2013,” Sessions stated in a press release. “It exchanges instant increases in federal spending for distant savings, as much two decades down the road, that are likely to never materialize. It funds increased spending through increased revenues – violating a core budget principle by collecting more money to expand an already too-large federal bureaucracy. And it trades the termination of today’s spending limits for the promise of new spending limits ten years from now…
“This deal claims illusory savings from Disability Insurance and increased pension insurance fees in order to boost bureaucratic budgets. Perhaps even worse, the deal attempts to stave off the shortfall in fraud-ridden Social Security Disability by plundering from the Social Security Trust Fund for retirees. One hundred and fifty billion dollars will be siphoned from America’s payroll retirement contributions and redirected to the mismanaged disability program.
The House is expected to a vote on the budget deal prior to Speaker of the House John Boehner’s (R-OH) exit at the end of the month. The House GOP is expected to nominate Ryan to replace Boehner on Wednesday, but hold a formal House election vote on Thursday.
The Huffington Post notes that more than a third of the 144-page deal is dedicated to the disability insurance provision:
It would prevent a 20 percent benefit cut scheduled to kick in next year for SSDI’s 11 million beneficiaries by diverting revenue from Social Security’s better-known retirement insurance program — a strategy some Republicans previously said amounted to “raiding” that program’s coffers.”
The bill is also supposed to save $4 or $5 billion by tightening eligibility requirements for disability benefits, partly by requiring the Social Security Administration to make sure all initial applications include a medical screening…
“The deal would also test ways of encouraging disability recipients to rejoin the workforce, which they rarely do. Benefits for people who decide to participate in a pilot project “shall be reduced by $1 for each $2 by which” their earnings exceed their work expenses as related to their disability. Gradual benefit offsets for working disability recipients were a key focus of a hearing Ryan chaired in July. As Ryan explained, the Social Security Administration can terminate disability benefits if a recipient earns too much money.
“Here’s the crux of it: If you make just one dollar more than you’re allowed, you get kicked off the program,” Ryan stated at that time, according to the Huffington Post. “In other words, it’s a lot safer to stay on the sidelines. No surprise then that only one-half of one percent earn enough to get off the program.”