NEIL CAVUTO, HOST OF “YOUR WORLD”: All right. Tim Geithner has already arrived at this House session. You’re looking at some of the congressmen and their staffs gathering. I guess this is the basement of the Capitol? Is that where they’re all gathering?
Tim Geithner, the treasury secretary, he’s meeting with all the House freshmen. There are 94 of them, 85 Republican freshmen, nine Democratic freshmen. He’s meeting with them on the budget, on this whole debt ceiling issue on a day the folks at Moody’s Investors Service -- these are the big credit ratings folks who said that, look, we either get this thing raised, and soon, or we could lower the nation’s AAA credit rating.
This man has an instrumental role in all of that, Paul Ryan, the House Budget Committee chief. He’s been vilified. He’s been lionized. He’s been "extremed."
Congressman, good to have you.
REP. PAUL RYAN, R-WIS., BUDGET COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN: Hey, good to be with you, Neil. How you doing today?
CAVUTO: Good, sir. This meeting with Tim Geithner, he has put the fear-of-God warnings out that, if we don’t move on this and increase this ceiling -- I think he has repeatedly said just make it a clean bill, a clean up-or-down vote, something you guys offered just a couple of days ago, and was widely rejected -- we’re...
CAVUTO: ... going to be in a heap of trouble.
What do you think?
RYAN: Well, look, he kept saying he wants a clean debt limit increase. The president said that. We said all along, you don’t have the votes for that.
So, we basically said, we will put it up and we will watch. Let’s see. And we had a group of Democrats that joined us as well. I think 89 Democrats voted with us on this.
What these credit rating downgrades show you -- I just read the last one on the BlackBerry a couple of minutes ago -- is that if we don’t get our fiscal situation under control, then they will downgrade our credit. It’s basically a statement of the fact that there’s not enough political leadership in Washington to fix this problem.
And so what I get out of these downgrade warnings is we need to get a dent on the spending and deficit as we deal with this debt limit increase. And so what is crystal-clear out of this is the need to get spending under control -- spending is the driver of our debt -- the need to get spending under control as we deal with this debt limit increase.
I actually see this debt ceiling thing as an opportunity, because the president chose not to do a budget to fix the problem. The Senate hasn’t even passed a budget and has said they’re not going to bother trying two years in a row.
We put out a budget to fix the problem. We see this as an opportunity, since the Senate stopped the budget process, to actually get a budget process going around this debt limit, and get real spending cuts, real spending controls to get a dent in the deficit and get us headed in the right direction.
CAVUTO: What if the White House still comes back with its original position, its original offer: We’re all for entertaining these spending cuts you want, Chairman, but you can’t tie it to raising the debt ceiling?
RYAN: You got that answer on Tuesday. And that answer on Tuesday is the House won’t pass it. It’s just that clear.
RYAN: ... the president knows this.
CAVUTO: So, you know what they are going to say. And you know how this is played back and forth. They are going to say, well, then, Republicans are going to bring us to the brink, Moody’s is going to lower the credit rating because, all of a sudden, we’re not going to make good on paying off our debt-holders, and Katy bar the door.
RYAN: Well, look, the president has already said he’s willing to put spending cuts to this.
He told us yesterday in the White House he’s willing to do discretionary and mandatory spending reforms, meaning cuts, as a part of the debt limit negotiations. So, I think that -- that’s already been settled. That’s what this whole entire Biden commission is all about is pairing spending cuts to the debt limit.
So, those talks are under way. They’re deep into it. And, yes, we’re talking about all kinds of spending. All spending is on the table. And we’re already way into that issue. And the president is already saying that he’s willing to cut spending.
Now, the question is, where and how do we do it? Our position is really simple, Neil. For every dollar the president wants to raise the debt limit, we’re saying cut more than a dollar’s worth of spending, so that we get the trajectory headed in the right direction, so that we can improve our nation’s credit, so we can improve the ability of our nation to actually pay our bonds due when they come due.
That would help us with our credit ratings. And that’s been confirmed by Standard & Poor’s and Moody’s.
CAVUTO: We’re told when this -- you had this session at the White House a couple of days ago with some of the Republican leaders meeting with the president, that it got testy with you and the president.
RYAN: No, I don’t think so.
Obviously, the media wasn’t there, so there’s hearsay. But I simply wanted to clear the air. And I wanted to clear the air on what it is we did propose for Medicare. We proposed a premium support system, which is similar to the kind of system the Clinton commission proposed, where Medicare offers seniors guaranteed-coverage options that they set up, just like Medicare does today...
RYAN: ... with Medigap insurance and Medicare Advantage and prescription drug benefits. And then Medicare subsidizes their premiums based on who they are, less if you’re wealthy, more if you’re poor and you’re sick, more...
CAVUTO: Yes, but they carried that a step further, Congressman, by these -- they’re calling you a granny-killer in a spot...
RYAN: Yes. So, that’s the point I was making...
CAVUTO: ... even featuring the guy who looked like you throwing granny off the cliff.
RYAN: Yes. No, I -- I saw the ad.
CAVUTO: Did that bother you?
RYAN: Yes, you know, you can’t make this stuff up.