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Rep. Paul Ryan On Obama's Budget Proposal


This is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Melissa Block.


Tough choices and sacrifices, that's how President Obama described his budget for fiscal year 2012 released today. The president promised it would reduce the deficit by more than $1 trillion over the next decade through spending cuts and tax increases. He also called for increased spending on such things as infrastructure and education. He called this budget a down payment on future fixes to the big entitlement programs, Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.

BLOCK: Congressman Ryan, do you see anything in the president's budget that you do like?

PAUL RYAN: The president even appointed a fiscal commission last year to deal with these issues, yet he rejected any of the major reforms recommended in the fiscal commission.

BLOCK: Well, let me ask you about a few of the things you mentioned. The White House is talking about more than $1 trillion in deficit reduction over 10 years, three-quarters of that from spending cuts, the rest from tax increases or the elimination of tax rates. And they say that will cut the deficit in half by the end of President Obama's first term. Not good enough?

RYAN: The president proposes to save 400 billion over the next 10 years by freezing domestic discretionary spending at these elevated levels. That's less than 1 percent of the budget over the next 10 years. So this is extremely small on spending reductions, high on tax increases and excessive on borrowing.

BLOCK: I've been trying to figure out where this $8 in tax increase for every $1 in spending cuts comes from, because I wonder if you're including in that projected revenues. In other words, there may be more taxes coming in because people think (unintelligible) rising and they're paying more capital gains. I don't see where you're getting the 8-1 ratio that you talk about.

RYAN: So I think they're overcounting their spending savings and they're undercounting their tax increases.

BLOCK: And the White House would quibble with you on all of those numbers.

RYAN: Sure. Of course.

BLOCK: I wonder, Congressman Ryan, if you see value in increased spending that the president is calling for on education and infrastructure and technology. The argument there would be, from the White House, this pays off in the future with job creation. And it's shortsighted not to fund those things adequately now.

RYAN: I would simply conclude with this: If borrowing and spending more money today was the secret to economic growth and prosperity, then we wouldn't have this high unemployment we have right now.

BLOCK: Congressman Ryan, when the Republican-led House Budget Committee comes up with its own budget proposal, will you be taking on entitlement spending like Medicare and Medicaid?

RYAN: It's too premature to say exactly what our budget is going to look like because we haven't written it yet. But we do think we owe the country a choice of a different future going forward.

BLOCK: Congressman Ryan, thanks for being with us.

RYAN: You bet. My pleasure.

BLOCK: That's Republican Congressman Paul Ryan of Wisconsin. He's the chairman of the House Budget Committee. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.