Nov. 30, 2011 – 11:42 p.m.

Ryan Looks to Use Next Year’s Budget to Reshape ‘Sequester’

House Budget Chairman Paul D. Ryan has kept a relatively low profile since producing a budget blueprint in April that proposed far-reaching changes in Medicare — and handed Democrats a potent political talking point.

But after the collapse of the joint deficit reduction committee last week, the Wisconsin Republican is re-emerging, pitching a revamped and bipartisan version of the line-item veto and pledging another ambitious budget resolution next year.

Next time, however, Ryan will be writing his budget against the backdrop of $1.2 trillion in automatic spending cuts set to begin in January 2013. Those cuts will be triggered because the joint committee, which was charged with finding a way to reduce the deficit, did not strike a deal by its late November deadline.

Defense hawks are already planning ways to head off the Pentagon’s share of the sequester, as the automatic cuts are called, which would total about $55 billion in 2013. Ryan was not a member of the joint committee, and he said he agrees that military’s share of the sequester is unjustified and should be replaced with cuts in other spending areas.

Ryan plans to present his budget next year as a way to make that shift. “Our budget will show how we will replace the sequester with a real fiscal fix,” Ryan said during an interview Wednesday. He said he never had high hopes for the joint committee, and he blamed President Obama, in large part, for its inability to come up with a deal.

Ryan’s fiscal 2012 budget resolution called for spending about $6 trillion less over a decade than Obama proposed in his budget request. Ryan’s Medicare overhaul accounted for the largest portion of the difference.

While that proposal heartened many conservatives, it provided Democrats with ammunition for the 2012 election campaigns. After the House adopted Ryan’s budget (H Con Res 34) on a 235-193 vote in April, the resolution died in the Senate, with all Democrats and five Republicans — Scott P. Brown of Massachusetts, Susan Collins and Olympia J. Snowe of Maine, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Rand Paul of Kentucky — in opposition.

Ryan observes pointedly that Senate Democrats did not offer a budget resolution of their own.

Election years are typically not productive for congressional budgeteers. “My guess is the budget process will look like it did this year,” Ryan said.

But before he gets to budget-writing, Ryan is taking on a more bipartisan effort, joining his committee’s top-ranking Democrat, Chris Van Hollen of Maryland, to push a line-item veto measure that he expects will reach the House floor in January.