Paul Ryan on the House GOP’s Budget
On the Record with Greta Van Susteren, Fox News
Greta Van Susteren: Right now, House Budget Committee Chair Paul Ryan’s new budget plan it would cut $5 trillion in spending over the next decade. Chairman Ryan joins us. Nice to see you, sir.
Paul Ryan: Good to be with you.
Greta Van Susteren: Tell us in the simplest words what is this budget?
Paul Ryan: It's a plan to balance the budget and to get our debt paid off so that we give the next generation a debt-free nation. In this budget are a lot of pro-growth policies to get this economy growing again, to increase take home pay, to create jobs. We think the country is headed in the wrong direction. We think our fiscal policy is in the wrong direction. We think we should balance our budget, pay our bills, and there a lot of things we think we ought to do that's not being done to get this economy growing. That's what we are proposing.
Greta Van Susteren: To use some language from our home state, we have been living high off the hog, so in order to balance the budget, we have got to; I assume we have got to tighten the belt?
Paul Ryan: Yes, you’ve got to tighten the belt. You’ve got to cut wasteful spending. You’ve got to reform programs that are growing too fast and that are going insolvent, going bankrupt. And you’ve got to grow the economy.
Greta Van Susteren: Where do you find -- where are you cutting?
Paul Ryan: Where is all the $5.1 trillion come from?
Greta Van Susteren: Right.
Paul Ryan: How much time do you have? A number of things: We think we need to fix some of our welfare programs so that we make sure that we transition people from welfare to work so we propose to block grant some of these programs like food stamps and have able-bodied people have work requirements.
Greta Van Susteren: Is there a cut in the overall dollar amount or is there a cut in the administration of it?
Paul Ryan: To give you a sense of all of this, instead of increasing spending by 5.2% a year on average for the next 10 years, which is where we are going now, we propose to have 3.5% average annual spending growth in the federal budget that actually balances the budget and gets us on a path to surpluses to pay off the debt ultimately over time.
Greta Van Susteren: I assume we keep paying more because we are bringing more people in the food stamp program and it hasn't been declining number but it has been an increasing number.
Paul Ryan: It's been growing dramatically.
Greta Van Susteren: If it continues to grow as we expect yet you’re cutting the amount of payment.
Paul Ryan: We want to make sure that able-bodied people transition into lives of work. That's just one example of some of the welfare reforms that were successful in the late 1990s which says give the states the ability to tailor some of their reforms to fix these programs, to get people on into lives of self-sufficiency and work, that is just one example.
Greta Van Susteren: Is the idea and I hate to try to oversimplify but just so I can understand, is the idea that you are taking a lot of responsibility of the program and sending it back to the states because they may be in a better position to manage it than the federal government?
Paul Ryan: This one size fits all solution from Washington that isn't working so like we did with cash welfare in the late 1990s, we were very successful in Wisconsin. We did this quite well. You remember Tommy Thompson and W-2, which was let’s let the state legislature and state legislatures customize the benefits so they can fit the needs of their local population, and also they can experiment with ideas of getting people back to work. Same with Medicaid. Medicaid is a program that's going bankrupt. Medicaid is a program that’s not working very well so we also argue that we ought to have the states take the lead role. They already basically run the program now. We want to give the states more flexibility to cater to their populations. Those things save money. Federal employees, I will give you an example. We think federal employees should pay about half of their pension benefit just like people in the private sector, who pay the taxes for the federal employees, do. There is a lot of things that can I go on and on which taken together, saves money, cuts about $5.1 trillion and that gets us to a balanced budget and then we get into surpluses so we can start paying off the debt.
Greta Van Susteren: Part of it is to it repeal Obamacare, right?
Paul Ryan: Yes, we do repeal Obamacare.
Greta Van Susteren: I'm sure you have seen some of the criticism. President Obama called it a “stinkburger” or a “meanwich.” Congressman Van Hollen who is your colleague on the committee, he says it's nothing short of an assault on Americans struggling to stay afloat economically. I know you guys like each other. Why are you so far apart on this? I assume you might come out with those blistering words if he did it.
Paul Ryan: I wouldn't say that. We have a very different philosophy. Chris talks about investments which means more spending. Here is the big classic difference, we think we should balance the budget and pay down our debt. The President doesn't. He has never once proposed to balance the budget, never has he given us a budget that ever balances. Neither have the Democrats.
Greta Van Susteren: Does Congressman Van Hollen want to balance a budget?
Paul Ryan: He has never proposed to balance the budget.
Greta Van Susteren: Does he want to? He seems like a nice guy.
Paul Ryan: Here is what I think. If you want to do something, then show us how you are going to do it. Technically speaking, we don't have to do a budget this year because we have an agreement in place but if you don't like the direction the country is headed, which we don't, that's why we think we should put out our ideas. We think we ought to have an energy boom in this country and get this oil and gas industry up and running; that would dramatically lower our oil and gas prices, bring more jobs to America, bring more revenues to the federal government and help lower the deficit. There are lots of things in here like tax reform and energy development, welfare reform, save Medicare from going bankrupt. Lots of things that we do here go after cronyism, corporate welfare, all of these things that we think we ought to do because we don't like the status quo, you take them together and that gives us a balanced budget. What the Congressional Budget Office tells us if you do this, if you reduce these deficits like that, you will grow the economy faster and you will have more take home pay for workers.
Greta Van Susteren: I know the reception this is going to get in the Senate which is controlled by an opposing party. I'm curious even with your party in the House there has been a lot of difference on this thing, how is it being received in the Republican Party?
Paul Ryan: Quite well. This will be the fourth time. This is very similar to the prior budgets we have passed; it’s a lot like our budget we passed last year. It cuts a bit more spending because by the way, the Congressional Budget Office tells us now we are five years into Obamanomics – the economy is even worse, fewer people are staying in the labor force. So we have a slower economy which means bigger deficits, so we have to cut a little bit more to make sure we get the balance. But other than that, our budget is very similar to what we have done and what we have shown since we have been in the Majority, this will be four years in a row where we produced a budget that pays off the debt. We think that's really important because we think we owe the country an alternative, some solutions. How do you grow the economy? How do you balance the budget? How do you fix these things? We want to replace Obamacare with patient centered care. We don't a 15 person board of bureaucrats running Medicare with price controls. We want seniors to be in charge of their healthcare. These are the kind of reforms we are talking about because we don't like the direction the President is heading.
Greta Van Susteren: One quick question: Saturday night, Kentucky or Wisconsin?
Paul Ryan: Badgers.
Greta Van Susteren: Badgers. By how much?
Paul Ryan: Our center, Frank Kaminsky has been on fire. It's going to be close. It's going to be close. If you watched the Louisville game, I mean Kentucky eeked it out at the very end.
Greta Van Susteren: They have a very young team.
Paul Ryan: They do have a young team. They can do better later on but right now it's our turn.