House budget chairman doesn't expect entitlement reform agreement
March 17th, 2011
02:06 PM ET
4 years ago

House budget chairman doesn't expect entitlement reform agreement

Washington (CNN) - Even before he unveils his plan for major reforms to entitlement programs, House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan admitted Thursday he doesn't expect any bipartisan agreement on changing Medicare, Medicaid or Social Security this year, saying the issue will likely be decided in the next election.

"If the political conventional wisdom is that they're just waiting to demagogue us and use this against us in political campaigns - which I don't know, it probably will happen - then that means we go to the country and say which future do you want," Ryan said at a breakfast on Thursday sponsored by Politico.

Ryan's public admission echoes what other Republican Congressional aides have indicated privately – they still plan to move ahead with a proposal, but don't expect much Democratic support, which is necessary since Republicans only control one chamber of Congress.

The Wisconsin Republican declined to give any details on what reforms he will propose, saying "none of these decisions have been made." But he acknowledged his plan to reform entitlements–which will be included in the GOP's 2012 budget to be unveiled in early April–would give ammunition to Democrats.

"Yes, is this a political weapon we are handing to our political adversaries – of course it is," Ryan said, but argued it was important to act on this issue now.

Democrats have already argued that Ryan plans to eliminate benefits for seniors. They point to a proposal he put out in 2008, which he called "A Roadmap for America's Future," that would partially privatize Social Security and begin to convert Medicare into a voucher program. But Ryan has made it clear that was his own plan, and was not drafted to be his party's position.

Based on over 500 town halls he's organized in his own Wisconsin district, Ryan argued that the public is ahead of the political parties and would support major changes to these government programs. He pointed out that he represents the "the classic swing district" and has been proposing reforms for years. "I'm still surviving," he said.

Ryan said he has not yet had a conversation with President Obama about the issue, but has asked for a meeting.

Criticizing the President for failing to address entitlement reform in his own 2012 budget released last month, Ryan said "actions matter and his actions suggest he's punting."

As negotiations continue over this year's spending bill, Ryan said a government shutdown is "still possible," but downplayed its impact, saying, "A shutdown is not a crash."

Asked what spending cuts he wants to see, Ryan quipped, "you should ask me what I wouldn't like to see cut."

Using his iPad to show a series of charts and graphs highlighting a wash of red ink growing in government debt, Ryan warned that the U.S needs to move now on reforms. "The faster you act the better off everyone is going to be because otherwise it's European austerity"

Ryan said of the three major entitlement programs, "Social Security is the easiest one to fix," and although it doesn't pose an immediate problem in terms of solvency, he said both parties could work together on some changes to the program. A bipartisan fix would show the public "that our government is not broken."


Filed under: Budget • Paul Ryan
soundoff (26 Responses)
  1. keeth in cali

    "which I don't know, it probably will happen..."

    So he gives up before he even tries, and then blames it on the other side. Real classy, GOP.

    March 17, 2011 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |
  2. rs

    Hands OFF! Medicare, and Medicaid are vital programs that work. Social Security is sound for more than 20 years, and is not a financial burden. Don't mess with what isn't broken.

    March 17, 2011 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |
  3. Claudia, Houston, Tx

    Don't vote Republican in the next election. These people have a hidden agenda that will not benefit Americans and if they can't tell Americans up front but say wait until election time, they are truly playing Americans for stupid. DON'T VOTE REPUBLICAN.

    March 17, 2011 02:11 pm at 2:11 pm |
  4. Rickster

    And why would Ryan expect bipartisan agreement?......the democrats don't want to cut ANYTHING.

    March 17, 2011 02:16 pm at 2:16 pm |
  5. tulsa, ok

    freeloading republicans.
    Who is this POS to declare Democrats will demagogue the Right wing fascists.
    POT, MEET KETTLE

    March 17, 2011 02:17 pm at 2:17 pm |
  6. JMR49

    The Wisconsin Republican declined to give any details on what reforms he will propose, saying "none of these decisions have been made."

    Gutless smack talking cowards.

    March 17, 2011 02:28 pm at 2:28 pm |
  7. Proud member of "Global Zero"

    And according to the polls in Paul Ryan's state, he is BEHIND the democratic candidate by 10 points. Can't wait for 2012. This guy will be gone.

    March 17, 2011 02:28 pm at 2:28 pm |
  8. The Real Tom Paine

    Funny, you substitute "entitlement reform" with "healthcare reform" and this sounds like the same tune from a different band. Ryan is out there saying that his plan proposed in 2008 is not the one the GOP will adopt, and that sounds a lot like the folks who argued in favor of Single-Payer. Let us hope the plan they propose will have the same effect on the GOP that healthcare reform had on the Democrats in 2010. Everyone said they wanted healthcare reform, yet after pleas for bipartisanship went unheeded, the Dems lost over 60 seats in the House. I hope the GOP does push entitlement reform this year, since it will cause the backlash against the GOP to get even stronger. I project 70 seats will be lost, including Ryan's.

    I would like to see Ryan's job cut out, by the voters of his district.

    March 17, 2011 02:29 pm at 2:29 pm |
  9. TOTUS 4 PRESIDENT

    The loony lib Dems in congress are happy to shut down the government by REFUSING to stop their insane and out of control spending. It's like a drug for them, and we need to send them back to rehab in Nov. 2012.

    March 17, 2011 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
  10. Patrick from Minnesota

    We're not going to have a serious conversation on how to get anything done until we throw the Republicans back into the minority. They have wasted our time.

    March 17, 2011 02:36 pm at 2:36 pm |
  11. ConservaFascists/F.U.B.A.R.

    No there won't be any agreement on "entitlements." Especially not on Social Security. You fascists are hell bent on privatizing everything in this country. Enough is enough! The new Wall Street Reform law says there will be no more bailouts. So what will happen to Social Security if it is privatized and Wall Street gambles away all of OUR(The Peoples) money? We won't be able to bailout out ourselves for the money that we are ENTITLED to. Stop the FASCISM!!!!

    March 17, 2011 02:39 pm at 2:39 pm |
  12. Dave Elliott

    The ideas behind Social Security (SS) and Medicare (MC) were that we paid into those programs. When we became a certain age, we were eligibe to collect from the fund. That was the "contract". I don't see how we can change the "contract" after having paid into it for forty or fifty years. On the other hand , SS disability and medicaid are altogather different, and I believe these programs are where the major amount of waste, fraud and abuse takes place. For example, drug addicts are not disabled, they are stupid, I don't think being stupid should make you eligible for SS. And the systems themselves are flawed. We have all seen that episode of 60 minuts. So lets make a concerted effort to govern the programs after we legislate them. Throw in the Department of Defense and take a serious look at corporate tax rates and corporate welfare as well as returning to the marginal tax rates that existed in 1970 and we have a good start at attacking the deficit problem.

    March 17, 2011 02:41 pm at 2:41 pm |
  13. Video Guy

    I want a future without Paul Ryan in office. Also Wisconsin is finding out what damage Republican can do.

    March 17, 2011 02:42 pm at 2:42 pm |
  14. thomas

    Was House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan in the Military ? No , He's kinda like Mitt Romney's sons who dictate rather then contribute !

    March 17, 2011 02:42 pm at 2:42 pm |
  15. bckrd1

    When Congress cuts their salaries by 50% and foregoes taxpayer funded pensions and healthcare, I think then and only then will the American people be likely to respond better to the reforms they are trying to impose on the rest of us. Since I have had money taken from me for the last 45 years I am Entitled to it later as was promised. They do not pay for their benefits so they are the ones who are taking from the American people and it should be stopped. Lead by example. Give up your generous perks first then talk to me.

    March 17, 2011 02:48 pm at 2:48 pm |
  16. Mah

    Does the Republicans plan involve more shafting of middle class workers in order to funnel more money to the rich? Because if it does – and it probably does – I'll tell you which future I want. And its not one run by Republicans.

    March 17, 2011 02:55 pm at 2:55 pm |
  17. Wire Palladin, S. F.

    The republican pledge: I pledge allegiance to the biggest corporations of America and to the profits which they take at the expense of workers and the middle class, and give to the GOP. One party under God, against the best interests of our country."

    March 17, 2011 02:58 pm at 2:58 pm |
  18. denny

    These republicans that want to take away the benefits from the seniors , but none of them ever say anything about giving up their pensions

    March 17, 2011 03:00 pm at 3:00 pm |
  19. gt

    gutless.... repub... democrats .. and obama....act like you people want to do the best for the country and not just trying to get re elected..

    March 17, 2011 03:08 pm at 3:08 pm |
  20. Sniffit

    Of course there won't be ageement. The GOP wants "entitlements" reduced to pay for more tax cuts to the rich and corporations in order to further widen the wealth gap and, the reality is, doing so will finally, completely and utterly destroy the middle-class we worked so hard to create in the first place. Do we really have to go back to 19th century labor practices in order to remind ourselves why it was important to create the middle-class and provide safety nets for the elderly, those in need, etc. etc.? The bottom line is this: the vast vast vast majority of this nation's wealth is in the hands of a tiny minority of people, who are rich, white, have an inflated sense of entitlement themselves and who really freekin hate the demographic changes that are taking place and which will pretty much result (in their minds) in the DEms taking over for good. That's not acceptable to them. They want their GOP puppets in control, but it doesn't look lieklly to be feasible within the next 20-30 years. Ergo, it's time to go with Plan B...i.e., "I've got mine, screw you"...and rapidly accelerate the wealth redistribution that's already been redistributing the nation's wealth and assets to the rich and corporation over the past 3 decades since we all took a bath in the trickle-down daydream economic snake oil the GOP and their most successesful salesman pitched to us. In their view, the only way to "atke the country back"...or shoudl I say "KEEP THE COUNTRY IN OUR HANDS"...is to reduce everyone to indentured servitude or functional serfdom, living their lives debt ridden and beholden to their corporate masters, who in turn own and earn everything, dole out just enough for subsistence and then purchase our government's decision making. They'll be thumbing their noses at us and screaming "TAKE THAT GROWING MINORITY POPULATION...NA NA NA BOO BOO!!!"

    March 17, 2011 03:10 pm at 3:10 pm |
  21. Wire Palladin, S. F.

    With his stance against workers, I am not sure Flyin' Ryan can get reelected in Wisconsin in 2012.

    March 17, 2011 03:13 pm at 3:13 pm |
  22. Larry L

    If the cap on Social Security deductions was removed to require payment for every dollar earned, Social Security would be fixed. Medical care could be fixed by tort reform, meaningful preventive health services, leveraging the tremendous buying-power of the Medicare system, and an outcome-based plan for health care payments. The fix for medical care requires the Republican Party to get out of bed from their love affair with insurance companies, HMOs, and pharmaceutical corporations. These problems are fixable, but require measurable levels of integrity and patriotism from the weasels we've elected as our leaders.

    March 17, 2011 03:14 pm at 3:14 pm |
  23. Harry Wortz

    Typical politician. Just kick the can on down the road. They begin scheming for re-election the second they are elected and re-election is more important than doing what's right for the country.

    They are all nothing but divide and conquer for profit pukes.

    March 17, 2011 03:20 pm at 3:20 pm |
  24. fayse

    Why is it that the Republicans revert to using the social issues of Social Security and abortion as their political platform in every election? Could it be because they have no viable solutions to the problems that face our Country? Why is it that Dick Cheney said " that the deficit dosen't matter" but now it is a huge issue? The Republicans target the poorest of our Nation while they are pandering to the Rich. I say, reduce the department of defense. True we need to maintain a strong military but, they could make significant cuts and still maintain a strong military considering the advanced technology that we have. We should demand that all elected officials take a substantial cut in their salaries, perks, pensions, and staff expenses. All congressman/woman,senator, Governor etc,etc. Lets start there.

    March 17, 2011 03:26 pm at 3:26 pm |
  25. Wire Palladin, S. F.

    This man is as much of a hypocrite as Sue. Ryan is still trying to complete the failed policies and agenda of the worst president of the United States, George W Bush.

    March 17, 2011 03:30 pm at 3:30 pm |
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