OTR Interviews

Ryan: Obama budget plan a campaign gimmick that does nothing to fix nation's fiscal problem

Rep. Paul Ryan on why he believes president's budget plan is a campaign gimmick

 

This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," February 14, 2012. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: Right now, Congressman Paul Ryan, the House Budget committee chair, with very pointed words for President Obama's $3.8 trillion budget. He calls it a gimmick and adds that it is a recipe for debt crisis. But he's not just slinging words. Congressman Paul Ryan also has a plan. Congressman Ryan joins us. Good evening, sir.

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

VAN SUSTEREN: OK, first of all, let's start with the president's budget that he proposed. What's wrong with it, in your opinion?

RYAN: What's wrong with it most of all is what it doesn't do. It doesn't fix our problem. He doesn't even pretend to actually fix our fiscal problem. So instead of having sort of an American built to last, I would call it American drowning in debt.

And then when you strip away all the accounting gimmicks and all the counting tricks -- take all that way, it doesn't come close to even doing what he says it does. He says it reduces the deficit by $4 trillion. Doesn't do any of that when you strip away all the budget gimmicks.

It increases spending net over $1.5 trillion, increases taxes by $1.9 trillion, and has a measly $400 billion of deficit reduction over an entire 10-year period.

VAN SUSTEREN: Well, let me ask you about...

RYAN: So he's proposing to spend $47 trillion over 10 years. And so instead of increasing our debt by 78 percent, which is what the status quo is doing, he's increasing debt by 76 percent, $11 trillion added to our national debt under of this budget.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right, explain -- explain something to me because the president submits a budget and we get projections for fiscal year 2013.

RYAN: That's right.

VAN SUSTEREN: And then we get a set of numbers which shows what's going to happen over the next nine years after that. And that, of course, is not taking into account that next year, another budget's going to be set with another direction, whether up or down, whether he's the president or another one's the president or whatever. And so this is almost sort of the -- sort of the stream of numbers we see out in the future are completely phony.

RYAN: Well, they're projections. And you have to project where government is going in the future so you set your tax policies accordingly, you can set your spending policies. You can tell whether Medicare is going bankrupt, for example, which it is in 2021, according to CBO, or 2024, according to Medicare.

So the future does matter...

VAN SUSTEREN: Well, it does matter, but...

RYAN: ... but it's also the trajectory of the policies. So it shows the path the president has put us on based on his policies that he's calling for. And since 61 percent of the budget is on autopilot, that just shows you how this debt is just going on autopilot up.

And the President's literally doing nothing about it. He's actually chasing higher spending with higher taxes. And he's doing nothing to address the drivers of our debt. We will have a debt crisis in this country. That's going to happen. That's -- and the frustrating, disappointing thing about this, Greta, is he knows this. He knows we have a debt crisis in this country.

And what's troubling to those of us who care so much about this country, about our economy, about people not being lied to with empty promises of benefits, about people living on the safety net, about people counting on a Medicare and Social Security, if we don't do something to fix these programs, then those people are going to hurt the first.

VAN SUSTEREN: Well, the whole system -- and not to be disrespectful to the members of both sides of the aisle and the president, is phony to begin with. I mean, even the fact that Senator Harry Reid has said that he has no intention of having a vote on the president's budget means that all these books that are put together -- and I've got stacks and stacks of books that...

(CROSSTALK)

VAN SUSTEREN: I've got four giant books -- all this work that the administration did putting together this budget, making these books and making these projections and making these numbers, is just a silly exercise because it's never going to see the light of day because Senator Harry Reid has said that there's going to be no vote on it. And he -- and it's -- it's obscene!

RYAN: So the law says the president has to produce this. The budget law says the president, by actually a week ago yesterday, must produce a budget.

VAN SUSTEREN: Well, why doesn't he get together in the -- this isn't really your problem. It's the other party. Why doesn't he get together with his colleague, a Democrat, in the United States Senate and say, Let's have a vote up or down on...

RYAN: That's the second point I was going to make.

VAN SUSTEREN: OK.

RYAN: The law also says the House must produce a budget and the Senate must produce a budget by April 15th. Now, we passed our budget last year on time. We're going pass a budget this year again on time because you -- A, we think it's our moral obligation, but it's also our legal obligation. The Senate didn't pass a budget in 2010. The Senate didn't pass a budget in 2011, and now...

VAN SUSTEREN: And there's no recourse. No recourse...

RYAN: And there's no recourse...

(CROSSTALK)

RYAN: They're just ignoring the law, and Senator Reid is now saying he will not bring up a budget. He won't pass a budget this year, as well.

VAN SUSTEREN: Why not?

RYAN: Because I don't think they want to show you and the rest of the country just the kind of tax increases they have in store for the kind of government they've built. I don't think they're willing to show the country literally how much government will really cost the country because they are unwilling to cut spending. The president's giving us a budget that increases spending in a debt crisis!

VAN SUSTEREN: Well, at least I'll give him credit for at least coming up with something that -- I mean, at least Senator Harry Reid is actually stopping it!

RYAN: Yes, and...

VAN SUSTEREN: I mean, I...

(CROSSTALK)

VAN SUSTEREN: ... proposal. He put something on the table.

RYAN: Four years of trillion-dollar deficits. We've never seen that before. But he did give us a proposal.

VAN SUSTEREN: How much does this cost, do you think, this study?

RYAN: To actually print the budget?

VAN SUSTEREN: No, the whole -- I mean, the -- I'm just -- because I'm -- for some reason, it makes me crazy, the fact that Senator Harry Reid won't even consider this and put this up for a vote. And the administration by law has to go through this and...

(CROSSTALK)

RYAN: I can get you that number. I don't know what it is off the top of my head, but we can get you that number.

VAN SUSTEREN: What -- give me -- what -- estimates...

RYAN: Millions of dollars.

VAN SUSTEREN: Millions of dollars for this, and it's never going to see the light of day, million of taxpayer dollars!

RYAN: Yes. That's right.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right. And that's appalling. That's absolutely appalling!

RYAN: It's also against the law. So Senator Reid is basically saying, in the midst of these chronic budget deficits and on the eve of a debt crisis, our elected representatives in the United States Senate have just decided not to govern -- not -- not just this year, but for the last two years, as well.

And that's the problem. It also fuels this uncertainty. It gives the country the sense that their government's not even working, that they're not even proposing alternatives. We put our cards on the table, passed our plan, and more importantly, we addressed the drivers of our debt.

We passed a budget to lift this crushing burden of debt, to get us back on a path to prosperity and reform our tax system, save Medicare, save these programs from going bankrupt so people can actually rely on these guarantees.

But you'll see all those negative ads being run. But we believe we have a moral obligation to put these solutions on the table. You know what, Greta? We're going to give the country a choice. They will see what we're offering as a choice of a different future for the country than the one that the president and his party has us on.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right, give me the bullet point difference between your proposal and the president's. and I realize the Senate doesn't have one. But anyway, your proposal and the president's.

RYAN: Ours is a plan that actually pays off the debt.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right...

RYAN: His is a plan that...

VAN SUSTEREN: ... somebody's...

RYAN: ... puts -- that has the debt out of control.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right, in order to pay off the debt, somebody's got to get hurt.

RYAN: You have to cut spending.

VAN SUSTEREN: OK. So -- so he's not -- he's not going to cut spending, so you're going to have to hurt people.

RYAN: You...

VAN SUSTEREN: Or hurt some organization -- cut something.

RYAN: Actually -- so yes, we propose to cut a lot of spending. But I would argue the hurt comes from kicking the can down the road. It's the austerity that you have to impose later in a sudden, urgent way. Just ask the Greeks what that looks like when you procrastinate.

We're saying if we can reform these programs now, we can do them in real a gradual way. We don't affect Medicare benefits for people 55 and above. They stay the same. But we have to reform this program for the next generation so that these benefits can be counted on.

So we're saying gradual changes now to prevent this debt crisis from getting out of control with economic growth and tax reform, versus the president's path of debt and doubt and decline, which by procrastinating the fix to these problems means they'll be sudden and urgent. And you'll the rug out from under people after they've already retired...

VAN SUSTEREN: All right...

RYAN: ... crank up taxes on young people to hurt the economy, like they're doing in Europe, because they procrastinated. So the pain comes from doing nothing and then having a violent debt crisis on your doorstep at that moment.

VAN SUSTEREN: What is wrong with taking a little bit of their revenue, tax increase, on the wealthy, which is about 1 percent of the tax- paying population, those who make over $250,000 a year, and adding it to your spending cuts so that we get faster to the point of pulling ourselves out of this crisis? And I realize that your thinking is that if people are taxed more, the economy will not move as quickly. But the -- you know, but let's say -- let's say you tax the top half a percent.

RYAN: So the -- raising the tax rates on the people above $250,000...

VAN SUSTEREN: Let's do it above a million.

RYAN: Let's say...

VAN SUSTEREN: Do it above a million.

RYAN: That's about -- well, off the top of my head I know the numbers off of $250,000. That gets you about 6 percent of the president's spending increases. They only cover about 6 percent of his proposed plan.

VAN SUSTEREN: Is that offset by what it does to the economy by...

RYAN: No, he's increasing spending so much...

VAN SUSTEREN: No, but I mean, if take -- if you take that amount that you're talking about that the president wants, if you take that amount and actually tax those people, is that going to inhibit the revving up and...

RYAN: Yes.

VAN SUSTEREN: ... the growth of the economy...

RYAN: That was my second point.

VAN SUSTEREN: ... at an equal or greater point?

RYAN: So my second point is these tax increases he's proposing are to fuel more spending, not to reduce debt. But more to the point, here's the thing, Greta. I will say this as fast as I can. Eight out of ten businesses in America, they file their taxes individuals, not as corporations, you know, subchapter S corporations, partnerships.

The president is proposing that their top tax rate go to 44.8 percent in 2013. That means we're going to be taxing successful small businesses, which is where more than half of our jobs come from, at tax rates higher than the largest corporations in America.

You know, you and I are from Wisconsin overseas, meaning Lake Superior, where we come from.

VAN SUSTEREN: (INAUDIBLE) Illinois.

RYAN: The Canadians are dropping the tax on their businesses to 15 percent. Iowa's at 12.5 percent. China taxes their businesses at 25 percent, and Barack Obama wants to tax a successful small business at 45 percent in a year! You don't grow the economy by doing that. You don't grow the economy by penalizing job creators and successful small businesses and taxing them almost more than twice as much as their foreign competitors. And more to the point, these tax increases are to fuel more spending.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right...

RYAN: That's why we have a big problem with ...

VAN SUSTEREN: When you said the president knows better, that's one of the first comments you were saying, and that there are gimmicks on his plan and that we're taking advantage essentially of discounts we're already going to have -- I mean, things that -- like the war. We're not going to be paying for the war and he counts that. Are you saying that he has a different ideology on how to resolve the deficit, the debt and where the direction of the economy is going? Are you saying that he is being deceitful because he knows better?

RYAN: No, he's not even trying. That's what I'm saying.

VAN SUSTEREN: Is that...

(CROSSTALK)

VAN SUSTEREN: ... not being deceitful and...

RYAN: He's not even trying to fix this problem. That's what's so disappointing.

VAN SUSTEREN: Why isn't he -- why wouldn't he try?

RYAN: I don't know the answer to that. He gave us the fiscal commission, the Erskine Bowles, you know, Simpson commission. He disavowed that. Then he had the Biden talks...

VAN SUSTEREN: Well, you voted no on that.

RYAN: I voted no...

(CROSSTALK)

RYAN: ... alternative on the table where I said, This is a better way to go. At least I said, Here's how I would do things differently. The president has created -- has outsourced leadership to all these commissions and committees. He's disavowed every one of their findings. We put out an alternative. We said, Here's how we'll do it instead of this way. He has yet to put a solution on table to fix this problem. Four budgets, four trillion-dollar deficits, more debt added to this -- to this country...

VAN SUSTEREN: The number -- yes, I can see the number...

(CROSSTALK)

RYAN: ... George Washington, George H.W. Bush combined. The point I'm saying is -- I'm not saying it's an ideological things, it's a mathematical thing, and he literally has just chosen not to give a solution...

VAN SUSTEREN: But he -- but you're not even...

RYAN: ... to this country's debt problem.

VAN SUSTEREN: ... saying it's mathematics. You're saying it's just - - he's just not doing it. I mean...

(CROSSTALK)

VAN SUSTEREN: That's where you say there's no leadership. But then we've got Senator Harry Reid that -- he's MIA! I mean, what -- I mean, if they don't have anything and none of this is going to get to the floor, what are we paying these salaries for if they're not -- I mean, we have no budget to operate from!

RYAN: And the problem we have today is a fiscal crisis. And you don't address a fiscal crisis if your government doesn't budget. Our government hasn't budgeted for three years. We're still living under the Obama 2009 budget that was passed by Senator Reid and Nancy Pelosi in that Congress. That's the last one budget that passed. That's the one we're under still.

And so what we're saying is we need to make choices in this country. And the sooner we tackle these problems, the better off everybody's going to be, the more we can do it on our own terms...

VAN SUSTEREN: It's hard to do that if not everyone's participating!

RYAN: Yes...

(CROSSTALK)

VAN SUSTEREN: ... got to a least participate! But anyway...

RYAN: Now you know how we feel.

VAN SUSTEREN: Congressman, thank you, and good luck.

RYAN: You bet.

VAN SUSTEREN: You asked for the job, right?

(LAUGHTER)

RYAN: Thanks.

VAN SUSTEREN: You're welcome.