These budget negotiations were supposed to be Paul Ryan's moment

With the Republican Party reeling from a government shutdown and a near disaster over the debt limit, the chairman of the House Budget Committee was tasked with leading the GOP in a six-week bicameral budget conference. Republicans, who demanded these talks in exchange for a short-term budget resolution, were expected to pursue big-picture negotiations over America’s long-term fiscal challenges.

But that’s not going to happen. Since being appointed as the Republican negotiating chief two weeks ago, Ryan has endeavored to lower public expectations for the committee, saying he hopes to pursue small, targeted policy fixes rather than broad, sweeping reforms.

“We don’t want to set expectations that aren’t going to be achieved. That’s not helpful,” Ryan told National Journal Daily on the eve of negotiations.

Ryan added: “There won’t be a grand bargain. So we shouldn’t suggest that there will be.”

Such modesty of purpose sounds peculiar coming from a politician who, after Republicans regained the House majority in 2011, was celebrated by conservatives as America’s fiscal messiah. When Ryan released a budget that year, he described it as “the new House majority’s answer to history’s call.”

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