The non-existent rift between Toomey and Ryan 

The Hill has a headline out now reading “Republican rift widens on Medicare.” Their only source for this claim? The fact that Sen. Pat Toomey’s (R-Pa.) budget does not cut Medicare like Rep. Paul Ryan’s (R-Wis.) does:

The budget plan that will be introduced Tuesday by conservative Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.), a former House member, is expected to become the leading Senate GOP alternative. Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), the ranking member on the Budget Committee, has suggested he will not offer his own proposal.

Without the cover of Toomey’s plan, many Senate Republicans would feel forced to vote for Ryan’s plan to fend off criticism from the right. Senate Democratic leadership aides say they will seek a vote on Ryan’s plan later this month in a roll call that will trigger at least a few GOP defections.

Toomey’s budget is not now, nor was it ever meant to be, a cover for not supporting Ryan’s Path to Prosperity. Toomey had been working on a budget long before Ryan unveiled his plan. Yes, some GOP senators will vote against the Ryan plan.  The Maine sisters (Sens. Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins) were never going to vote for the Ryan plan. But the Toomey budget wil not increase those numbers. Snowe and Collins probably won't even vote for the Toomey budget.

But more importantly, the goals of the documents are completely different. The Toomey budget only covers the next ten years; it is a short-term budget plan. The Medicare cuts in the Ryan plan don’t even start till ten years out; it is a long-term plan.

And what does Toomey have to say about the Ryan plan? He tells David Weigel, “[Paul Ryan's] bill comes to the Senate floor, I expect to vote for it. This bill has a different focus.”

That’s a heckuva rift.

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Conn Carroll

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