OTR Interviews

Rep. Ryan: Trying to Prevent a Fiscal Road to Ruin

This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," March 8, 2011. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: OK, let's face it, we're broke and we are in trouble. Ask President Obama's co-chair of the bipartisan debt commission. Both will tell you that we're broke. One of them pointed out that the United States is messed up, so messed up that by treaty, we've agreed to protect Taiwan from invasion by the Chinese, but we have to borrow the money from the Chinese to be able to protect Taiwan. Go figure, right?

Well, we run out of money March 18th, so what can we do? Congressman Paul Ryan joins us. Good evening, sir.

REP. PAUL RYAN, R-WIS.: Hey, good to be with you.

VAN SUSTEREN: Nice to have you on the set.

RYAN: Thanks for having me.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right, the Republicans want to cut the budget for this year by $61 billion. That's a lot of money.

RYAN: Out of a $1.6 trillion deficit and...


RYAN: ... a $3.8 trillion annual budget.

VAN SUSTEREN: Well, I was going to say -- that was my next question. It's only -- I mean, I thought that was a lot until ... 1.6 percent.

RYAN: Right.

VAN SUSTEREN: So that's not really...


VAN SUSTEREN: ... much.

RYAN: No, but what we're trying to do is prevent the huge spending gains that were gotten over the last two years from going forward. The president increased government agency budgets by 24 percent, domestic agencies, over the last two years. Then with the stimulus, he increased them by 84 percent. What he's trying to do is lock in all these spending increases going forward, and we don't want to do that. That's why we're trying to cut spending now to get them back to pre-binge, pre-stimulus 2008 levels.

VAN SUSTEREN: Can't you just go back to that? I mean, with the...

RYAN: That's what we're trying to do.

VAN SUSTEREN: Is that where the $61 billion brings it back (INAUDIBLE) 2008? But what -- what is 1.6 percent -- I still don't get what it's going to do for us. I mean...

RYAN: So going through this rest of this fiscal year, we want a down payment on some spending cuts, so we go forward starting in October with more spending reforms and more spending cuts. We don't want to accept what we call the baseline of this massive spending increase. We want to get a down payment on cutting spending because if the president succeeds in freezing spending at these high levels, that's another trillion dollars over the course of the budget of more money to government agencies, to this discretionary domestic government agencies, double digit, triple digit increases these agencies have gotten.

The EPA got a 124 percent increase in its budget over the past two years. He's trying to lock those spending gains in and go forward. We want to deny that and bring spending back down to normal levels.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right, March 18th is the end of the next continuing resolution deadline. Do you think that we'll have another continuing resolution? Because I'll tell you, the...

RYAN: Probably.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right, well, I'll tell you what Senator Reid was quoted in -- the headline of The Las Vegas Sun is, "I'm opposed to more short-term budget proposals." That's two hours ago.

RYAN: The president himself -- the president himself suggested doing another one, so...

VAN SUSTEREN: So what does that mean?

RYAN: ... the president has suggested...

VAN SUSTEREN: Does that mean...


VAN SUSTEREN: ... what Senator Reid says?

RYAN: ... four weeks and $8 billion in savings, in cuts. We $4 got billion in two weeks. The president's suggested going another two. So Senator Reid and the president don't seem to be on the same page.

VAN SUSTEREN: That's not good!

RYAN: Our cuts are prorated for our savings, so we might go another two weeks and $4 billion. I'm not sure where this is going to go. That's where the president has agreed to go, so I don't -- he'll have to talk to Senator Reid about that.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right. You have a Powerpoint presentation that you show. One of them is -- has your guiding principles.

RYAN: Right.

VAN SUSTEREN: If I may jump ahead and use yours?

RYAN: Yes.

VAN SUSTEREN: The guiding principles that you have for reform are no changes to those in or near retirement.

RYAN: Right.

VAN SUSTEREN: Fulfill the mission of health and retirement security. Lift the crushing burden of debt. Spur economic growth and path to prosperity. I don't see in there get rid of fraud and waste. And in going through the numbers, I have -- I learned that the estimate is 9 percent of Medicare is fraud or waste, 9 percent.

RYAN: Those are the details we will get into when we do our actual budget, which is in April. But we have guiding principles in our budget which is when we're reforming entitlement programs, which are the drivers of our debt crisis, we have got to make sure that people in and near retirement are protected. We can do that if we reform these programs soon.

If we keep kicking the can down the road, as the president has proposed in his budget, adding $13 trillion to the debt, $1.6 trillion in new tax increases, if we keep postponing these reforms, then everybody's going to get cut. Everybody's going to get hurt. So we're saying, No, no, no, no. Let's fulfill the mission of health and retirement security for all generations, protect people in or near retirement, but let's get a plan to pay off this debt so we can start growing our economy now, as well.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right, you have other charts. I mean, what...

RYAN: Look, I know I have a lot of charts...

VAN SUSTEREN: What's that? I know, but what's that chart?

RYAN: This is what the Congressional Budget Office tell us our debt is going to. We've had debt in the past, like in World War II. We went up to -- our debt was as large as the entire economy. Right now, our debt is going to catastrophic levels. We'll have a tidal wave of debt. If you want to learn more about this, what you can do, you can go to my website, Prosperityproject.org. You can go to the Budget Committee website. This debt is getting out of control. By the time my three kids, who are 6, 7 and 9 years old, are my age, the debt will crash the economy. They'll have twice as much debt as all Americans have in income. We can't have a future like that. So we know if we stay on the path we're on, the path the president's proposing in his budget...

VAN SUSTEREN: Is that his proposal? I mean, is that -- is that...

RYAN: This is...

VAN SUSTEREN: That is actually the...

RYAN: This is what CBO says we're going to have under the path that he has laid in front of us. Now, granted, the president inherited a tough fiscal situation. No two ways about it. The problem is he hasn't done anything to fix it. And we're not going to stop anything with that leadership. We're not going to drop our responsibilities. We're going to propose a budget that actually fixes this budget, that actually gets this debt under control, that gets this deficit under control. And we're going to put a budget out there that makes sure that these programs can be counted on and we can get this economy growing. Look, one of the other problems -- you talked about China...

VAN SUSTEREN: You know what? I'm going to have to cut you off there, but you know, I'd love to have you -- we'll talk about China. All right, Congressman, nice to see you. Thank you.

RYAN: Thank you, Greta.