“I know a number of people who have real concerns about where this is going,” said Rep. Peter T. King (R-N.Y.), who said Medicare cuts targeting people as old as 58 are under discussion.

“One of the last presidents to balance the budget was Herbert Hoover,” King added darkly, referring to the penny-pinching Republican blamed for deepening the Great Depression…

“There’s plenty of political peril associated with this. Whether we as a conference have the stomach to look at Medicare and Social Security spending will be the make-or-break part of the deal,” said Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.), a senior member of the House Budget Committee. “But I think setting an ambitious goal was wise. If we can’t do it, the country can’t do it.”…

Still, Democrats are salivating over the framework. Just as the pain of the sequester starts affecting schools, parks and airports, Democrats say, Republicans will be promoting a vision of extreme austerity that voters rejected in the 2012 presidential campaign — which featured Ryan as the GOP vice-presidential nominee.