OTR Interviews

Point-Counterpoint on Rep. Paul Ryan's Budget Plan

This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," April 5, 2011. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: All right, if you think the 2011 fiscal budget is a mess, the one that's getting us into this shutdown, try 2012. But Congressman Paul Ryan, chairman of the House Budget Committee, says he has a plan. He posted part of his plan on YouTube.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. PAUL RYAN, R-WIS., BUDGET COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN: Our plan brings spending back down to the historic level of 20 percent as a share of our economy. Washington has not been telling you the truth. If we don't reform spending on government health and retirement programs, we have zero hope of getting our spending, and as a result our debt crisis, under control.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VAN SUSTEREN: Well, how do Democrats feel about Congressman Ryan's 2012 budget plan? They hate it! The Democrats are blasting Congressman Ryan. They are furious about the Republican 2012 budget proposal, one Democrat saying it's pulling the rug out from underneath seniors when it comes to Medicare and Social Security overhauls.

Georgia congressman Tom Price joins us. Good evening, sir.

REP. TOM PRICE, R-GA: Hi, Greta. Great to be with you.

VAN SUSTEREN: Something I just want to make clear. Does Congressman Ryan's budget have -- do anything to anyone currently 55 years of age and over?

PRICE: No. In fact, we preserve Medicare and Social Security for those individuals 55 and over. But those programs are unsustainable as they are right now, so they've got to be reformed.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right, so...

PRICE: So what we do is bring about positive reforms for those below.

VAN SUSTEREN: OK, so it's -- if it's -- so it's 54 and down who this affects. All right, now, the CBO says the first look at the bill, that by the end of the 10-year budget window, the public debt under this bill will be higher. What do you think about that? Because that's not a very good report if the CBO says that this plan is going to get us in a worse mess.

PRICE: What we know is that we will decrease the deficit in the first by over $600 billion and that over the 10-year window, we save $6.2 trillion. That's with a T-R, Greta, trillion dollars, compared to the president's budget. In facility, this -- this little graph shows just that. The small line at the beginning is the debt that we've had over the past 50 years. The red line is where the president's budget takes us. That's not conjecture, that's where his budget takes us. And the green line, which comes down to balance over a period of time, is where this budget goes.

VAN SUSTEREN: Are you saying, then, that the Paul Ryan budget plan is just less worse than the Obama plan?

PRICE: No.

VAN SUSTEREN: Because I mean, they -- because according to the CBO, that -- the debt is still going to be higher, so it's not exactly -- we're not flat-lining or going down.

PRICE: But what the nation needs to see, what the American people are demanding and what the markets are demanding and the economy is demanding is that we get on a trajectory toward balance. As you can see, in the president's budget, there's -- it never gets to balance, ever. In fact, what we do is get the budget to balance over a period of time. And that's what the American people want to see. It's what they're demanding!

VAN SUSTEREN: All right, as I understand this bill -- and I'm just sort of -- it's -- I mean, it's a tough thing to, you know, just take and try to understand right away -- is that for Medicaid, that what -- the plans is that there will be block grants to states. So whatever amount we were going to pay beforehand, we're going to pay the same amount, only it's the states that's going to dish it -- the money out, right?

PRICE: The same way that we saved Welfare.

VAN SUSTEREN: How does that save us -- how does that save us money? Because we're giving the same amount of money to the states, so instead of us administering it, the states are -- the feds, I mean.

PRICE: The same way we saved Welfare in the '90s. It's predictable, is what happens, so that there's not an open-ended budget for the Medicaid program. It's predictable, allows greater flexibility for the states. It's what the governors, both Democrat and Republican, have been clamoring for. And it makes it so that the system, the program, is much more responsive to people because state governments tend to be more responsive than the federal government.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right, in terms of money -- and I'm sure you heard my interview with Congressman West moments ago in terms of waste -- I mean, there's an awful lot of waste. Why isn't there much aggressive behavior by Capitol Hill to go after the waste? I mean, it took a freshman congressman to come in here, and he got a -- he got a unanimous -- I mean, a unanimous vote.

PRICE: Yes. No. It was a great bill that Congressman West brought forward.

VAN SUSTEREN: Why did it take him? I mean, everyone else has been around for a while.

PRICE: In fact, what we're doing through the committee process, all of the committees are charged by the Speaker with going through the oversight process and coming up with the waste that's under their...

VAN SUSTEREN: Isn't it sort of...

PRICE: ... jurisdiction.

VAN SUSTEREN: Isn't it sort of embarrassing, though, that a freshman comes in and does that?

PRICE: No, I think it's great.

VAN SUSTEREN: You don't think...

PRICE: It's wonderful.

VAN SUSTEREN: I mean, I -- I think so, too, but I just think it's, like -- you know, I think, like, What's everyone else been doing?

PRICE: That's the vitality of these 87 new freshmen on the Republican side that are giving us the kind of enthusiasm and inspiration to move forward.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right. In terms of this bill, of Congressman Ryan's, does it any way address the issue many Americans are upset about, about how corporations avoid taxes?

PRICE: Absolutely.

VAN SUSTEREN: Corporations that make a billion dollars, and yet they -- they avoid taxes (INAUDIBLE) every American doesn't avoid taxes.

PRICE: We decrease spending. We make certain that health and retirement security are safe for future generations and we decrease taxes for individuals and for businesses. When we broaden...

VAN SUSTEREN: But if they avoid -- I mean, according -- if you look at these numbers, these corporations -- these huge corporations making billions of dollars are avoiding it already! I mean, how much more can they get?

PRICE: And you remove the -- you remove the loopholes that they have and you broaden the base of the tax rates and you bring them down so that you revitalize the economy. Heritage estimates that there'll be one million new jobs in the first year, 2.5 million new jobs every year by the end of the decade. And the unemployment rate will be 4 percent -- 4 percent, Greta, in 2015 under our budget.

VAN SUSTEREN: Congressman, thank you.

PRICE: Thank you so much.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right, you just heard from a Republican congressman, so now a Democratic congressman. New Jersey congressman Rob Andrews joins us. Good evening, sir.

REP. ROB ANDREWS, D-N.J.: Hi, Greta. How are you?

VAN SUSTEREN: Do you -- I'm very well. Do you agree with Congressman Price that the Ryan budget does not affect anyone 55 years of age and older?

ANDREWS: I think that's basically right. But I think if you're under 55, it's devastating to you because, basically, what it does is to say that rather than you going to the doctor of your choice and having Medicare pay for your treatment, an insurance company will make those decisions. It's interesting that they...

VAN SUSTEREN: They do now. They do now for a lot of us.

ANDREWS: Well, they do, and I think if you ask most people on Medicare if they'd rather go back to that, they would say no. So this really ends Medicare as we know it for people 55 and under.

VAN SUSTEREN: OK, here's the problem, though, is that as I understand it -- (INAUDIBLE) numbers, shrumbers. We hear an awful lot of numbers coming out of Capitol Hill (INAUDIBLE) head is spinning -- is that the current Medicare system -- it needs to be revised. Is that right? It's unsustainable.

ANDREWS: I agree with that.

VAN SUSTEREN: OK. All right. So the people that we're talking about, the under 54, under the current system, they're in deep trouble anyway because there's not -- it -- by the time they go to collect it, there's not going to be much there!

ANDREWS: I think -- deeper trouble under this. But let me talk about a couple of more sensible ways I think we could save money under Medicare. How about this? The Veterans Administration pays about 35 percent of the price for coumadin that Medicare does under Part D. That's because the Republicans passed a law that said Medicare may not negotiate the price of prescription drugs. Why not let Medicare get the best deal on prescriptions and save $25 billion a year that way?

VAN SUSTEREN: Well, actually, we're going to have a segment coming up about that kind of thing. But I'm sort of curious. If that's such a good idea, why didn't you -- why didn't the Democrats do that when you had the House, the Senate...

ANDREWS: Well, we tried.

VAN SUSTEREN: Well, you had the White House and the House and the Senate in the last -- until November!

ANDREWS: The honest...

VAN SUSTEREN: Why didn't you do it?

ANDREWS: The honest truth is we couldn't get enough senators to go along. The House was ready to do that.

VAN SUSTEREN: You didn't have enough Democratic senators.

ANDREWS: That's right. We didn't.

VAN SUSTEREN: How could you not have Democratic senators who want to fight waste?

ANDREWS: It's one of the great mysteries of life. But I'll tell you that that's what I think -- second example. We have a program called Medicare Advantage that pays insurance companies $114 to provide benefits that Medicare provides for 100 bucks. So it cost 100 bucks under Medicare, 114 bucks to insurance companies. Why not phase that out?

VAN SUSTEREN: But see, when you tell me that, it makes me crazy! I'll tell you why because you have a Republican congressman who comes in here, and in three months managed to get a 393-to-zero vote and get something passed.

ANDREWS: Right.

VAN SUSTEREN: And then you come in here and tell me, like, these ridiculous things we're paying outrageous amounts when you just -- up until November, you had the House, the Senate and the White House and you could have done all these things!

ANDREWS: I'll tell you one thing we did do...

VAN SUSTEREN: So I mean, it makes -- it makes -- you know, the American people would be, like, What in the world are you doing?

ANDREWS: I'll tell you one thing we did do.

VAN SUSTEREN: Well, why didn't you do that? Just tell me -- I mean, why didn't you do that?

ANDREWS: We did part of what I just said, phasing out this insurance company program.

VAN SUSTEREN: But you could have done it faster!

ANDREWS: The second we did was to phase out some other overpayments for medical equipment...

VAN SUSTEREN: Overpayment?

ANDREWS: Yes, about $500 billion in savings.

VAN SUSTEREN: Wait! Stop! You phased out overpayments? ... Just stop!

ANDREWS: Got rid of them. Got rid of them. Got rid of them, $500 billion worth. And you know what Paul Ryan thinks of that? He agrees with us. He put it in his budget. The only Medicare savings in the Ryan budget, the Republican budget, the first 10 years, except for $30 billion, are the ones we passed as part of health care reform.

VAN SUSTEREN: I -- you know...

ANDREWS: The only people around here who've been able...

VAN SUSTEREN: Congressman, I...

ANDREWS: ... to restrain Medicare costs were us in the health care bill.

VAN SUSTEREN: I -- you know, I don't know -- I'm not looking to assign blame or get credit, but the thing that makes me sort of -- when I see a freshman congressman come in here and do so much in three months and I see many members of Congress who I like very much and respect and just been sitting there and let the waste go on and on! You tell me...

ANDREWS: Can I give you another example?

VAN SUSTEREN: You can't get me -- you can't get Democratic senators...

ANDREWS: Can I give you another example?

VAN SUSTEREN: Yes. Go ahead.

ANDREWS: Myself and Mike Conway, a Republican congressman from Texas, passed nearly unanimously in the House and Senate a bill last year that stops the Pentagon from paying 100 bucks for a hammer when they could pay $10. That passed almost unanimously.

VAN SUSTEREN: Where -- what happened?

ANDREWS: It passed. It's law. It's going to...

VAN SUSTEREN: Why did you even have to...

ANDREWS: ... save about $125 billion over five years.

VAN SUSTEREN: How did we even get to the point where that even existed?

ANDREWS: But we fixed it, and Republican conservative Mike Conway and I did that together.

VAN SUSTEREN: Well, I applaud you for that because that's -- that's the most deplorable things is these -- all these people with these 3,300 loopholes in the tax code where people gaming and playing with the American people!

ANDREWS: The deplorable thing would be to have a government shutdown. We shouldn't -- you know what the deal could be right now tonight? The president -- the Republicans want $100 billion in spending cuts. We'd agreed to $73 and drop all the other issues and let them fight for another day. We met them three quarters of the way there, and they want to shut the government down? I don't understand that.

VAN SUSTEREN: You get the last word on that. Congressman, thank you.