House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan boldly predicted Tuesday that the American people would embrace his call for deep spending cuts rather than “duck” the issue of the looming debt crisis, which he said would soon bankrupt the country.
Appearing on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” ahead of the release of his federal budget proposal later this morning, the Wisconsin Republican disagreed with some in his own party who have urged GOP lawmakers not to propose deep spending cuts, especially in Medicare, during this election year.
“I believe that’s not the politically risky thing anymore,” Ryan said. “I think the wrong thing, just from a political standpoint, is ducking this issue, ducking responsibility and failing to fix this crisis.”
Ryan confirmed that his budget calls for $5.3 trillion in cuts over the next 10 years, to be achieved through a variety of proposals.
But much of the savings would still come from entitlement programs, including changes to Medicare designed to slow the growth of the program by providing alternative “guaranteed health options,” as he put it, for younger Americans.
“We’re saying we’ve got to cut $5.3 trillion right now to pre-empt the crisis and make sure that seniors don’t get cut in the middle of retirement,” Ryan said. “If you don’t do that, then everybody will get hurt, and it will get ugly.”
Asked how he thought people would react, the budget chairman said, “I think people are ready to be talked to like adults and not pandered to like children.”
A number of Republican political strategists have criticized the release of the Ryan budget, saying its proposed spending cuts and tax reforms will be twisted by Democrats and used against Republican presidential and congressional candidates in the November elections.
But Ryan stressed on Morning Joe that Republicans have an obligation to present the country with a clear choice.
“If we don’t like the path the president’s put the country on, which we don’t, we should show them exactly how we would do things,” he said, adding that his proposal makes the government “live within its means” by getting “off the days of spending money we don’t have.”
“We’re borrowing 40 cents on ever dollar. And the president gave us a budget that just makes it worse,” Ryan said.
“America is at such a precarious moment,” he continued. “Instead of cutting some backroom deal or letting some kind of special commission figure this out, let’s give the country a clear choice of futures. Let the country decide in the fall and whoever wins that referendum then gets to implement that plan.”
Ryan also defended his tax-reform proposals, which would reduce the current number of tax brackets from six to two and set rates at 10 percent for lower income earners and 25 percent for higher earners.
It also calls for eliminating income tax shelters used more often by the wealthy than middle-class Americans.
“My own view is that for higher income earners, in exchange for lower rates, we should take away those shelters and keep them for middle-income earners . . . This way we have a system that’s fair, competitive and simple,” he said.
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