In a post yesterday, I noted that when House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wis., releases his fiscal 2012 budget and 10-year spending outline, conservatives will face a question of whether to put all their energies into the current fight over the remaining few months of this year's budget or focus more attention on the long-term. But I should have also noted that the Ryan budget could help GOP leadership avert a shutdown, which it has been trying desperately to do.
Because the Ryan budget looks at a longer timeframe, it actually provides Republicans an opportunity to present plans to confront the real drivers of federal spending growth -- entitlement programs. If Ryan releases his budget sometime next week (let's say a few days before the April 8th deadline to avert a shutdown) the focus will start to turn toward 2012 and beyond.
If the Ryan budget is really good, achieves steeper cuts with a full fiscal year to work with and begins to address the entitlement crisis, it will help Republicans mitigate the backlash from the base should they compromise on the short-term budget measure. That's not to say that it will eliminate any frustration from Tea Party groups and other conservative activists, but the GOP leadership would at least have an argument to make -- that they came into office nearly halfway into the 2011 fiscal year so their hands were tied on this fiscal year, but when they had more time to work with, they presented a real plan to dig the nation out of its fiscal mess. Of course, if the Ryan budget disappoints, all bets are off.