March 7th, 2013
03:56 PM ET
1 year ago

Ryan: Lunch with Obama was a 'frank' discussion

(CNN) – House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan thanked President Obama for hosting a "frank discussion about Washington's budget challenges" when the two met Thursday.

Obama, who dined with 12 Republican senators Wednesday night, invited Ryan and Democratic Rep. Chris Van Hollen, the ranking member on the budget committee, to the White House for lunch.

In a statement, Ryan said he believes "everyone needs to be a part" of the conversation surrounding the country's debt and deficit issues.

"We need an open debate about how best to balance the budget and expand opportunity," he continued. "I look forward to having that debate next week with specific budget proposals from House Republicans and Senate Democrats."

Ryan, the 2012 GOP vice presidential nominee, is expected to introduce specific proposals in his budget on Tuesday.

Appearing on CNN's "The Situation Room," Van Hollen said the meeting lasted more than an hour and included only the three men, without any aides at the table.

"It was a good lunch, it was a good meal and it was a very good conversation," he said. "The president is trying to open every avenue of dialogue to try and get something done."

The meeting marked the first time Obama sat down with Ryan since the two competed head on in the presidential race last fall.

"Their relationship is developing very well," Van Hollen said, without going into detail about the meeting.

A White House official said the president was "pleased" to host Ryan and Van Hollen, adding that the group had a "constructive discussion."

Obama, the official said, "expressed his desire to continue a dialogue with them in the weeks ahead."

On the menu was lentil vegetable soup and broiled sea bass served with a roasted vegetable ragu, according to the White House.

The meeting came one day after the GOP-controlled House passed a Republican measure to keep the government funded through September, while softening the impact of forced spending cuts on the military and veterans affairs program. The continuing resolution now goes to the Senate for consideration.

In his dinner with a dozen Republicans Wednesday night, the conversation also focused on the country's budget issues–and many senators walked away from the meeting describing it as a cordial and genuine exchange.

The bipartisan meetings signal a shift in approach for the president, as they come less than a week after both sides were engaged in bitter, partisan fight over the failure to produce a deficit-reduction plan that averted $85 billion in across-the-board cuts from going into place.

Obama on Friday placed blame on Republicans for not compromising, while Republicans faulted Democrats for the same reason.

Asked if the latest Republican outreach was a change in strategy, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said on CNN's "The Situation Room" that it was "a change in circumstances."

"And a strategy that is born out of that change in circumstances," Carney continued.

Because there's no impending fiscal deadline, Carney added, then there's "a little room and time for constructive conversation."

Carney said the president was specifically reaching out to Republicans in Congress who have expressed an openness to moving forward.

"The president has been...having phone conversations and other kinds of encounters with lawmakers of both parties and we don't read all of them out and we won't read most of them out because, as the president said to me earlier with regards to the dinner, part of the effort here is to foster an environment where these conversations can be held in a way that allows for a free exchange of ideas," Carney said earlier in the day during the press briefing.

In an interview with CNN Chief Political Correspondent Candy Crowley, House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi applauded Thursday the president's efforts to meet with Republicans.

"He’s been very bipartisan in his approach. So, I think that these meetings are not something to say, ‘well, I’ll do this with you now, and do that with them later.’ I think it is, ‘let’s get some things done together to make elections less important.’ Let’s come together for the benefit of the American people, first and foremost, that’s our responsibility."

She continued: "So if he can diffuse some of their opposition to some of these issues, bravo, for the, again, for the American people."

Catch more from the interview with Pelosi Sunday on CNN's "State of the Union."

– CNN's Deirdre Walsh, Jim Acosta and Ashley Killough contributed to this report.


Filed under: Paul Ryan • President Obama
soundoff (20 Responses)
  1. ThinkAgain: We don't have a spending problem; we have a Republican problem

    If Ryan is serious about deficit reduction, how about we start with him and his family reimbursing the Social Security Administration for all the money they received after his dad died.

    If Ryan doesn't do this, then he's just another member of the 47% of Americans who are "victims" and "dependent".

    March 7, 2013 04:01 pm at 4:01 pm |
  2. ThinkAgain: We don't have a spending problem; we have a Republican problem

    Funny how all the Republicans never made a peep when GW Bush evaporated the Clinton surplus with his unfunded wars and unfunded Medicare Part D.

    Funny how they never made a peep when Dick Cheney said deficits don't matter.

    Funny how they've filibuster every budget that comes to the Senate because they want our country to suffer, so they can blame President Obama.

    Funny how Repubs don't listen to the 67% of American millionaires and billionaires who WANT to pay more in taxes (Spectrum Group poll, published in The Wall Street Journal).

    Funny how the Repubs continually thwart and obstruct the will of the people, who elected President Obama TWICE and the Democrats who retained control of the Senate and got more votes than Repubs by more than a million in the House (who only kept control because of redistricting shennanigans).

    It'd all be hilarious, if our nation and her people weren't suffering because of these Repub clowns ...

    March 7, 2013 04:07 pm at 4:07 pm |
  3. S.B. Stein E.B. NJ

    It would be nice if Ryan would stop trying to make Medicare a voucher system. The president needs to get Democrats to allow some changes that will prolong Medicare and reduce its cost.

    March 7, 2013 04:11 pm at 4:11 pm |
  4. Rudy NYC

    House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan thanked President Obama for hosting a "frank discussion about Washington's budget challenges" when the two met Thursday.
    --------------------–
    Wasn't it just yesterday that Spkr Boehner said, "... budgets should not be discussed by two people behind closed doors."

    March 7, 2013 04:11 pm at 4:11 pm |
  5. NameKarateCarol

    Ryan looks like Grumpy Cat!

    March 7, 2013 04:11 pm at 4:11 pm |
  6. NameKarateCarol

    Paul Ryan looks like "Grumpy Cat".

    March 7, 2013 04:14 pm at 4:14 pm |
  7. Republicans; the "Not Intended to be Factually Accurate" Party

    Mr. Ryan, are you still afraid to show the American people your Arithmetic? You commented during the election that you didn`t have time to go through the numbers with us.

    Note to Ryan: MAKE THE TIME

    March 7, 2013 04:14 pm at 4:14 pm |
  8. juan

    Look at this, no responses to an article that states that Obama is, in fact, compromising and reaching across the aisle. Typical.

    March 7, 2013 04:14 pm at 4:14 pm |
  9. Pk vietman

    Please be care full mr obama ryan is a devil he does does care who he hurts as lmg as he gets his way

    March 7, 2013 04:15 pm at 4:15 pm |
  10. Gurgyl

    Obama is more frank than GOP or else will not win landslide victory. True. Blame it on republicans.

    March 7, 2013 04:17 pm at 4:17 pm |
  11. ericgoestoholland

    Ryan's got his "frank discussion" face on in the photo. Or maybe not; I get it confused with his "I'm pushing your buttons" face and his "maybe I should have just been a golf course manager" face.

    March 7, 2013 04:35 pm at 4:35 pm |
  12. lottie

    like all dogs the republicans require some attention and stroking. They can not function unless they feel needed. THe American people are getting sick of them. To bad the president has to coddle them to get anything done . You would think they would want to help the public anyway they could. Apparently not. Unless they are wined and dined and get lots of publicity doing it.

    March 7, 2013 04:46 pm at 4:46 pm |
  13. ghostriter

    They had broiled sea bass! How can the president continue to spend money on lavish meals while the rest of the country suffers? Horrible!

    What? Republicans were there? My bad.

    March 7, 2013 04:46 pm at 4:46 pm |
  14. WiredweirdinSF

    And once again Rudy zings the Republicans in his unflagging support for the most inept, incompetent, corrupt, lying, union toady president we have ever had, showing the true face of democrat liberals.

    March 7, 2013 04:46 pm at 4:46 pm |
  15. critical thinking

    He keeps trying with Republicans behind close dooors, then hammers them in front of the media. Barack H. Obama, I just figured out what the H in your middle name stands for ; Hypocrite

    March 7, 2013 04:55 pm at 4:55 pm |
  16. The REAL Truth...

    @WiredweirdinSF – And once again Rudy zings the Republicans in his unflagging support for the most inept, incompetent, corrupt, lying, union toady president we have ever had, showing the true face of democrat liberals.
    -------------------------------------
    If that is true (and please DO try to get over the racist and hating overtones and write something intelligent and less boring) I can't even type here what that makes the large majority of Republican members of Congress.

    March 7, 2013 04:56 pm at 4:56 pm |
  17. ghostriter

    So....republicans make up some issue to have with Obama and blow it up to cosmic magnitude. Democrats have to respond.

    Democrats make up some issue to have with republicans (OK, they really don't have to make them up these days) and republicans have to defend themselves.

    All the while, actually issues go undebated. Who does this REALLY hurt? The taxpayers caught up in this good cop, bad cop routine.

    March 7, 2013 04:58 pm at 4:58 pm |
  18. Boomer in Mo

    Ryan's medicare plan is to machine gun granny. He has no experience with caring for 80-90 year olds because his family drops dead young. There is no way I could have cared for my Mother, who had Alzheimer's, and my Father, who was in his mid-90s, without relying on nursing care and finally a nursing home. I was physically unable to hoist my Mother on and off the toilet 20 times a day and staying there to keep her from falling off in an escape attempt, along with all the other physical labor involved. Ryan's plan is for all the elderly to be cared for by their families and close nursing homes. What about those who have no children? Like me. Guess I'd have to live in a card board box under a bridge. Ryan is an idiot.

    March 7, 2013 05:26 pm at 5:26 pm |
  19. Thomas

    Paul Ryan ,
    we are so lucky we didn't have you as VP.

    March 7, 2013 05:37 pm at 5:37 pm |
  20. Randy, San Francisco

    Can the two side meet in the middle and come to a compromise without the extremes of the political spectrum getting bent out of shape?

    March 7, 2013 05:40 pm at 5:40 pm |