House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan
says the GOP is not trying to shut down the government, but that might be the intention of Senate Democrats, who have not yet taken any action on completing a spending bill for the current fiscal year. With the April 8 shutdown deadline looming, Ryan also said on Fox News Tuesday, the House will unveil a 2012 budget next month that tackles entitlements.
“Well, it’s been 38 days since we passed our bill in the House preventing a government shutdown, cutting spending — the Senate has yet to do that,” Ryan told Fox News’ Greta Van Susteren. “They have passed nothing to try and prevent a government shutdown or to get any spending savings.
“We are not trying to shut down the government, we’re trying to save money — we're trying to cut spending. And we really don’t see any sincere efforts on their [part] to fix this,” Ryan continued. “So . . . it looks like they might be aiming for a government shutdown. That’s not our intention. Our intention is to cut spending and save some money.”
Ryan told Van Susteren the House’s 2012 spending package will include reforming entitlements, which he says are “the big drivers of our debt.”
“The point I want to make is the sooner you tackle our fiscal problems in America, the better off we are all going to be,” Ryan said. “We are going to present a plan for prosperity, for economic growth, for job creation, for getting spending under control, and reforming the drivers of our debt, so that — not only do our children and grandchildren inherit a better country and a higher standard of living — but get jobs going right now.
“If we don’t preempt the debt crisis, then we will have painful European-like austerity — benefit cuts to current seniors, tax increases on everybody, that slows down the economy — that's what we’re trying to prevent from happening,” he said.
“We want gradual reforms that protect seniors, people in and near retirement, from any changes, and we want government right, so we don’t have this tidal wave of debt that’s coming, which is the most predictable economic crisis we’ve ever had in this country. We want to preempt it, and that takes leadership,” Ryan added. “The president hasn’t led — we’re going to.”
Van Susteren asked Ryan how the House plans to confront popular entitlement programs — Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security.
“Next week, we’ll lay out a specific plan for how we propose to do it. But the point I want to make is, if we reform these programs now, we can do it gradually,” Ryan said. “No changes for anybody in, near retirement. So those like my mom and your parents . . . who are on these programs, they don’t see changes in their benefits.
“But for younger people, like us and the ‘X Generation,’ we will have to have reforms of these programs: One, so they're actually there when we retire, so they're sustainable, so they're solvent, but number two, so we preempt the debt crisis,” he added. “We’ll have to reform these programs to save these programs — Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security — they’re all going bankrupt. They’re all facing looming insolvency, and that’s according to the trustees.
“So you got to reform these programs if you want to save these programs. And we want to save these programs so there's something we can actually count on as younger people,” Ryan continued. “But more importantly, these are the big drivers of our debt and we don’t want to give this country a debt crisis.”
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