Boehner offers measured support for Ryan plan (again)

BOEHNER OFFERS MEASURED SUPPORT FOR RYAN PLAN (AGAIN)…. Two weeks ago, talking to reporters on Capitol Hill, House Speaker John Boehner called Paul Ryan’s House GOP budget plan “an option worth considering,” which was hardly a rousing endorsement. The comment drew so much attention, the Speaker’s office felt compelled to later add that Boehner “fully supports” the radical proposal.

Yesterday, this happened again.

The Republican-controlled House approved House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan’s budget proposal before Congress left for a two-week break earlier this month — putting GOP members on record for a plan that would phase out Medicare for those 55 years of age or under.

But while the Ryan plan now is the House Republican plan, House Speaker John Boehner cautioned in an interview that Ryan’s proposal is just “an idea … worthy of consideration.”

“I’m for it,” Boehner said. “It’s our idea. Right? It’s Paul’s idea. Other people have other ideas. I’m not wedded to one single idea, but I think it’s — we have a plan.” It prompted ABC News to note that the Speaker is “putting just a touch of distance between himself and the Ryan plan.”

Once again, Boehner’s office felt compelled to “clarify” matters, explaining that the Speaker “strongly supports” the Ryan agenda approved by House Republicans.

I don’t want to read too much into this, but it’s worth noting that John Boehner, for all of his faults, is generally on message. He may not always understand the subject matter, but the Speaker understands the importance of listening to his aides, reading the talking points, and sticking to the script.

And yet, twice in two weeks, Boehner has publicly suggested he’s not fully committed to his own caucus’ budget plan — a plan that, it just so happens, most Americans don’t like.

Of course, it’s a little late in the game for the Speaker to back away from the Ryan proposal, since House Republicans overwhelmingly already voted for it. But Boehner’s measured, borderline awkward, comments on this may offer a hint of below-the-surface GOP apprehension. Something to keep an eye on.

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Steve Benen

Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.