In an interview on Hugh Hewitt’s radio show new chairman of the House Budget Committee Paul Ryan spells out how he hopes to change the direction of the government and cut spending enough to keep the US economy from going ‘off a cliff’.
Excerpts from the interview:
HH: Now Congressman Ryan, you’ve written in your road map, and you wrote in the book you co-authored, Young Guns, with Eric Cantor and with McCarthy, Congressman McCarthy from California, that there’s a way out of this mess.
PR: There is.
HH: But the Budget committee’s going to have to lead that, and it’s going to have to be brutal. Do you think it’s prepared to do that?
PR: Yeah, I mean, I personally don’t call this brutal. What’s brutal is doing nothing, and just watching us go off a cliff. What’s brutal is procrastinate budget reforms, entitlements reforms, and then to the painful European austerity, where we just manage our decline as a social welfare state for the rest of the century. That’s what’s brutal. What makes sense, but we’ve got to get the politics right to do this, is let’s do budget reform, fiscal reform on our own terms. Let’s do it our own way before we have a debt crisis, without tax increases, without slowing down our economy, and without giving pain and cuts to current seniors who’ve already retired. If you go now or in the near future, you can prevent severe disruptions in the lives of people who’ve already retired and organized their lives around these programs like Medicare and Social Security. If you delay, you can’t keep making that kind of a commitment. So if you go now, you can grandfather the grandparents, reform these programs for the future generations so they’re more sustainable, more solvent, so we can keep our government limited, so we can maximize economic growth, prosperity and free enterprise. You can maintain that, that limited government, free enterprise, free market democracy, which is what we’ve had in this country, if you fix this stuff fast. But again, if you procrastinate, you’re not going to have that. You’re going to have a government that will be twice as big as it is today when my kids are my age. You’ll have a tax burden that will be twice as large as it is, per person, per capita, as a percentage of our GDP, when my kids are our age. We will slow down the economy, and we will give the next generation a far lower standard of living. And the American exceptionalism will be a thing of the past.
HH: All right, I want to go through each of those areas with you. We’ve got 25 minutes to do that. But let’s start with the actual tall weeds of the process. What’s the Budget committee going to do to start moving toward, away from the cliff, not towards the cliff, but away from the cliff?
PR: So between now and the spring, which is when the budget is written, we plan to do a lot of things to start making a good dent on spending. We plan to rescind spending. That means going to current year spending, and cut it out, cut a lot of this stuff back to pre-binge spending levels. We want to do process reforms like putting caps on spending, a Constitutional version of a line item veto. We want to freeze pay for federal employees and hiring. And we want to cut budgets. So we want to start going after spending right now in this year today. What happens is the President gives us his budget in February. We go and have the CBO measure that budget. They give us that at the end of February, and in March, we begin writing our budget to pass typically in April. So April is when our budget blueprint comes out. Before that is when we are going to go into the floor, almost every week, and go in after spending in many different ways.
HH: Now when you say you’re going to write your budget so that it comes out in April, that means, I think, that you send it to the Senate in April?
PR: That’s right. So this is the way the budget law works. So we don’t get our baseline, which is really the measuring stick we use to measure budgets, until the end of February. So in April is when all of this stuff is supposed to occur. So somewhere at the end of March, Early April, the House should pass its budget. The Senate should be working on it same track. And then we will see whether or not the House and the Senate can come together on a budget agreement. You know, my guess is that’s going to be pretty tough to do, given that the Democrats control the Senate, and health care is really the big driver of our problem. We don’t want this Obamacare to occur. We want to repeal it. We want to replace it. That’s the centerpiece of any budget that makes any sense in my mind. And I have a hard time believing the Senate’s going to agree with us on this, since they muscled this thing into law, and they still control the Senate. So it’s hard to see a big agreement between the two. And so what might probably happen is that the House will govern itself with the budget we pass, the Senate will govern themselves with the budget they pass, which will delay a budget impasse until later in the fiscal year in the fall.
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