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Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan speaks about his new budget plan after a March 19 party conference.
House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan tells NPR that he's "cautiously optimistic" that a budget deal can be reached with the White House.
Speaking to NPR a day after President Obama unveiled a 2014 budget proposal that includes cuts to Social Security and Medicare, as well as tax increases and new investments in education and infrastructure, Ryan said he was encouraged by the broad outlines from the White House.
"This is the first time in this presidency that I have seen a chance at a bipartisan budget agreement, so I am cautiously optimistic about that," Ryan said in the interview scheduled to be aired on Friday's Morning Edition.
He called the president's plan an "olive branch" to Republicans.
The 2014 White House budget plan, issued two months behind schedule, includes a $744 billion deficit for the year and $3.77 trillion in total spending. By contrast, the Republican budget calls for deep cuts in spending aimed at balancing the budget in a decade without raising taxes.
"Do I sense a different attitude from the White House? Do I sense a different attitude in the Senate Democrats who've for the first time in four years passed a budget? Yeah, I do," Ryan said.
"I do think that we have a better opportunity this year than I've seen in a number of years of getting a down payment" on the deficit, he added.
But Ryan criticized the proposal for never coming into balance and for increasing taxes to fund more spending on government programs instead of paying down the debt.
"I don't really see that in the aggregate as a compromise. I see some component parts within this budget as a move toward compromise," Ryan said.
"I wish we could do more because I want to make sure that Medicare is permanently solvent, not just for my mom but for my kids. I want to make sure that the promises government is making to people are promises people can count on. And right now, that's just not the case," he said.