Paul Ryan addresses fiscal cliff: ‘We’re nowhere. We’re farther than where we started’

Alex Pappas Political Reporter
Font Size:

Paul Ryan addressed the fiscal cliff crisis on Tuesday, telling a Milwaukee radio host: “We’re nowhere. We’re farther than where we started.”

In an interview with 620 WTMJ host Charlie Sykes, the Wisconsin congressman and 2012 Republican vice presidential nominee said the fiscal cliff negotiations to stop automatic tax hikes and spending cuts at the end of the year “don’t really exist” because the White House won’t negotiate with Republicans.

“He took 40 minutes to reject the deal,” Ryan said of Obama’s dismissal of a compromise offered by Republicans on the fiscal cliff on Monday.

“That leads us to conclude he’s trying to get us to our fiscal cliff,” Ryan said. “He doesn’t want to come to the middle.”

On Monday, Ryan, the chairman of the House Budget Committee, signed on to the Republican compromise plan offered to the White House.

The letter, authored by Speaker of the House John Boehner, says Republicans support “a balanced approach of significant spending cuts and new revenues from tax reform with fewer loopholes and lower tax rates” inspired by testimony from former Bill Clinton chief-of-staff Erskine Bowles in 2011.

Democrats said the Republican offer isn’t balanced enough and should include more tax revenue by raising taxes on the wealthy.

“The President’s not really negotiating,” Ryan said. “He’s just sort of moving the goal posts, rejecting offers.”

In the interview, Ryan also previewed his Tuesday night speech at the Jack Kemp Foundation Leadership Dinner in Washington, DC, which is expected to touch on topics like poverty and social mobility.

Asked about news reports suggesting that he plans to use the much-buzzed about speech to redefine himself and conservatism, Ryan dismissed that characterization. “They try to sort of sensationalize these things,” he said.

He also said that, while it isn’t new for him to be talking about poverty, he wants to give it more attention.

“I gave a very similar speech in October during the campaign at Cleveland State University about how to fight poverty, about conservative free market solutions to a addressing the needs of the poor,” Ryan said.

“The war on poverty has fundamentally failed and we need better approaches rooted in our nation’s timeless principles,” he added. “That’s not new for me. I think they’re treating it as if it’s a new emphasis, but it’s very similar to the speech during the campaign.”

“I believe we need to emphasize this all the more though because a lot of Americans do not know or have not heard that we have answers to these things.”

Ryan worked as a speech writer for Kemp in the early 1990s. He considers the former New York congressman and 1996 vice presidential nominee a mentor.

Ryan, thought to be a top contender for a 2016 presidential run, also discussed lighter subjects, including taking his daughter on a hunting trip last weekend where she killed her first deer.

“Who gets a 10 pointer as their first deer?” said Ryan, praising his daughter.

Asked if he’s over the post-election hangover, Ryan said: “Obviously it’s not fun to lose an election.”

“You’ve got to think and ponder these things,” he said. “And they tell me it was about 427,000 votes spread across four states that made the difference between winning and losing this election.”

Follow Alex on Twitter