Paul Ryan previews House Republicans’ responsible, balanced budget on Fox News Sunday
This Sunday, First District Congressman and House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan spoke with Fox News Sunday’s Chris Wallace. Excerpts from the interview follow.
Ryan on House Republicans offering a responsible, balanced budget:
“The point is we think we owe the American people a balanced budget and we want to respect hardworking taxpayers. And we think we have a responsible plan to balance the budget. The reason we do a balanced budget is not to make the numbers simply add up. It’s because it leads to a healthy growing economy that creates jobs. It’s a means to an end and the means is to get to a good, growing economy to create jobs and opportunity. I’m glad the Senate is doing a budget – it’s the first time in four years. Our concern is that they may never even propose to ever balance the budget and we think that is irresponsible.”
On slowing the growth of spending in the upcoming budget:
“Instead of spending $46 trillion over the next ten years, we’ll spend $41 trillion. That means we’ll grow spending on average 3.4% a year instead of growing it on average 4.9% which is the path we are on, which takes us away from ever balancing the budget, which produces a debt crisis. That’s the problem. The President has us on a path to a debt crisis – that hurts everyone, that brings us to a recession, that gives a European kind of experience which we want to avoid. We want people going back to work. We want higher wages, more jobs, a growing economy. We get that by balancing the budget.”
On fixing broken safety net programs with real reforms:
“We have 49 different job training programs spread across 9 different government agencies. Lots of bureaucracies; they don’t work. What we propose is to consolidate these programs into flexible grants that go back to the states to actually get people into jobs and into training so they can get back to work. We get rid of the bureaucracies in Washington and send the money back to the states so then people can actually get the skills they need to get the jobs they want. With food stamps, we simply say you have to qualify for the food stamp program to get the food stamp benefit. With our reforms, food stamps would have grown by 260% over the next ten years instead of 270% like they did grow.
With respect to Medicaid, we think the Obamacare expansion of Medicaid is reckless. We’re pushing 20 million people into a program that’s failing, more and more doctors and hospitals don’t even take the program, so we want to reform Medicaid by giving states the ability to customize the Medicaid program to meet the unique needs of their Medicaid populations. These are good reforms that we think will make these programs better.”
The importance of repealing & replacing the President’s costly health care law:
Chris Wallace: I want to pick up on this because I didn’t understand this. Are you saying that as part of your budget you assume the repeal of Obamacare?
Congressman Paul Ryan: “Yes.”
Chris Wallace: Well that’s not going to happen.
Congressman Paul Ryan: “We believe it should. That’s the point. This is what budgeting is all about, Chris. It’s about making tough choices to fix our country’s problems. We believe Obamacare is a program that will not work. We believe Obamacare will actually lead to hospitals and doctors and health care providers turning people away. It’s a program that basically puts Medicare under the control of 15 people on a board that will determine what kind of benefits people get – that’s a rationing board however you slice it. We don’t think healthcare is going to be improved in this country; we think it’s going to look very ugly over the next couple years. That's why we're going to propose replacing Obamacare with patient-centered health care -- with a better health care system for everybody, for the poor, for people in the states, for Medicare, so we can actually have affordable health insurance for everybody, including people with pre-existing conditions, without costly government takeovers which is what Obamacare represents. And yes, our budget does promote repealing Obamacare and replacing it with a better system.”
Strengthening and protecting Medicare for current and future generations:
“We’re saying: let’s convert Medicare into a system that works like the one I have as a Congressman, as a federal employee. You have a list of guaranteed coverage options, including traditional Medicare, for your future health care needs. Medicare subsidizes your plan based on who you are - total subsidy for the poor and the sick, less of a subsidy for wealthy seniors. Doing it this way, harnessing the power of choice and competition, where the senior gets to choose their benefit that is comprehensive, is the best way to save Medicare for future generations. This guarantees Medicare does not change for people in or near retirement and it also guarantees for those of us under the age of 55 that we actually have a Medicare program when we retire.
The problem is Medicare is going broke. The other problem is Obamacare does such damage to Medicare that it is going to damage the program for current seniors - we don’t want that to happen. That’s why we’re proposing these reforms that save and strengthen the Medicare program, not just for my mom but for my generation as well.”
On the meeting with the President at the White House:
“This is the first time I've ever had a conversation with the President lasting more than, say, two minutes or televised exchanges. So, I've never really had a conversation with him, on these issues before. I am excited that we had the conversation. We had a very frank exchange. We come from different perspectives. I ran against him in the last election.
So, we exchanged very different, frank, candid views with one another that were very different, but at least we had the conversation. And I think the answer to your question will be determined by how he conducts himself in the coming weeks and months. Will he resume the campaign mode? Will he resume attacking Republicans and impugning our motives? Will he resume what is long believed to be a plan to win the 2014 elections? Or will he sincerely change and try and find common ground, try and work with Republicans to get something done? That's what we hope happens.”
Washington has a spending problem, not a revenue problem:
“We think it's unfair to ask hardworking taxpayers to pay more so Washington can spend more. We think we should balance the budget. We have a spending problem, not a taxing problem. So we do have a difference of opinion on that. The other problem is this: by continuing to raise taxes to fuel more spending, you'll never get tax reform, which is critical for economic growth and job creation. And, so, yes, we have an impasse right now, which is the President wants to continue raising taxes, not for deficit reduction but to fuel more spending and we see tax reform as an incredibly important goal and policy to getting pro-growth economics, to getting businesses growing again and hiring people. Tax reform, to us, is an economic growth-generating exercise. Tax reform to the President, so far, seems to be a spending growth exercise, to spend money, revenue-generating exercise.”
Describing the election experience in 2012:
“Actually, I enjoyed the experience. It made it more realistic in my mind. It’s something that I much better understand. Janna and I were talking about this just the other day and we look back on it as a very positive experience. We actually enjoyed it. We got to meet hundreds of thousands of people who care so much about their country and we learned a lot about the greatness of this country, how hardworking people want to get ahead and make a difference. I found it a very pleasant experience to be candid with you.”
Focused on averting a debt crisis, not elected leadership:
“I have no plans to be in House elected leadership. If I wanted to be in elected leadership like the Speaker, I would have run for these jobs years ago. I’ve always believed the better place for me is in policy leadership — like being a chairman. With respect to running for president, I honestly think that we have a problem right now, that’s a budget mess, that’s a debt crisis coming. I’m the Chairman of the House Budget Committee, I represent the First District of Wisconsin – I should focus on that. That to me is the most important thing. I shouldn’t be clouding my judgment today by thinking about some political thing four years from now. I should not be clouding my judgment by thinking, ‘How does this position me to run for president?’ I ought to think: Do what you think is right, how can I help Wisconsin, how can I close this budget gap? Then, when we’re through with that moment, I’m going to give serious thoughts to these other things, but not until then.”