Cutting a real deal would mean losing the 2016 nomination but it “is possible if Ryan decides he’d rather be Speaker or Ways and Means Committee chairman than president,” Collender said.

That seems unlikely to conservatives who note Ryan voted against the debt-ceiling deal that set up the budget conference, along with every other 2016 contender.

“A Republican who went out there and increased taxes and increased spending to get a little bit of defense money would be eaten alive,” said anti-tax activist Grover Norquist. “The idea that Ryan would raise taxes instead of reforming entitlements is counter to everything in his entire life.”

Norquist said he is a “follower of Ryan” — not the other way around — and that he trusts him implicitly.

“If Ryan said that it was a good deal, I would probably support it sight unseen,” Norquist said.