"We have the 218 votes needed to support entitlement reform"

For many GOP freshmen, the decision reflects an urgency to seriously address the national-debt crisis, and an effort to make good on promises to the voters who elected them. “This is about leadership,” says Rep. Allen West (R., Fla.), a vocal member of the freshman class. “If we don’t deal with entitlements, then we are not serious. I am glad to see our leadership stepping up to the plate. They’re not backing away from the 99-miles-an-hour fastball. This really is about courage.”

Freshman representative Scott Tipton (R., Colo.) tells NRO that his class was itching to take on entitlements. But the fervor for bold policy, he says, is relatively recent. Once freshmen settled into office, many of them took hard looks at the budget. In order to get ahead of the Democrats, both fiscally and politically, his class wants to be the one to frame the debate, he says…

A senior GOP House aide tells NRO that the leadership is willing to move now on entitlements because the “will is there” in the conference. “We have the 218 votes needed to support entitlement reform,” he tells us. “While raising it now provides an important contrast, to be sure, we would not be bringing it up if we did not have the votes. We know the conference will back it if it’s included in the budget. The leadership knows they have to lead and there is no one better than Paul Ryan to take charge. The sense in the conference is, ‘let’s be serious.’”