Rep. Paul Ryan wants to change his image.
The Wisconsin Republican gained a national reputation early on in President Barack Obama's administration as a fearless deficit hawk battling to cut government spending—a profile that helped him win the vice presidential nomination on Mitt Romney's 2012 ticket.
Read MorePaul Ryan wants choice in delivering aid to poor
Now, the House Budget chairman, along with the rest of his party, seeks a broader appeal. Ryan has just unveiled a new strategy for federal anti-poverty efforts that does not aim to cut spending by a dime. Instead, it seeks to consolidate an array of programs into a single federal funding stream that states could choose to receive and then design their own programs.
"I didn't want to get into a debate about proper funding levels of the status quo because we would spend all this time talking about budget numbers," he told me in a CNBC interview. "I wanted to start a debate about how to reform the status quo. The fact of the matter is, is these reforms could occur at any spending level. You can decide later on.