House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan dubbed President Obama’s budget “debt on arrival,” in the first Republican response to the $3.7 trillion plan released by the White House Monday, adding “it would be better if we did nothing than if we passed this budget.”
Obama’s budget plan would increase the federal deficit by $7.2 trillion over the next 10 years. The administration touted a $1.1 trillion reduction over the projected deficit, accomplished through a combination of spending cuts and tax hikes. The plan calls for $8.7 trillion in new spending over the next 10 years, and $46 trillion in total spending.
Flanked by Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions, ranking member of the Senate Budget Committee, Ryan said his work on the president’s fiscal commission had led him to hope Obama might take a lead in dealing with the nation’s debt crisis.
“It is not too late to right our ship,” said Ryan. “If we keep punting like this budget does, there will come a moment when it is too late, and that’s why I’m disappointed.”
Ryan, who will write the budget, has already written a detailed “roadmap” for dealing with entitlement reform much maligned by Democrats, but was cagey Monday on whether his budget will tackle the charged issue.
“Wait until we put our budget out and we’ll see,” Ryan said, saying the fiscal year budget in April would be the time for tackling large issues like entitlement reform.
After the third or fourth question about the issue, Ryan replied, “How many times are you guys gonna ask this?”
“Clearly we need to go there, but I’m not going to get into a specific [discussion],” he said. “Anyone who knows anything about me knows we have to tackle entitlements or they’re going to tackle us.”
Sessions stuck up for Ryan saying he’s the only person on the Hill to have proposed a specific solution to America’s fiscal situation and, as a result, gets attacked for it.
Ryan also touched on one of his political liabilities, using his vote for Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) and the economic disaster that preceded it as a parable for today’s debt crisis.
“I was involved in TARP negotiations in 2008. That was an ugly situation; that surprised us, we didn’t see it coming,” he said. “If your representative…knew the timing, the scope, and the nature, knew what was necessary and they chose not to do [it] because it wasn’t good politics, what would you think of that person?”
The president has seen the problem, acknowledged it, and with this budget, “ducked it,” Ryan said.
Sessions asked for presidential leadership on reforming entitlements.
“Now we’re faced with taking on something as complex and deeply emotional as entitlements and the president isn’t even in the game, doesn’t even suggest it should be done,” Sessions said.