The Republican budget committee chairman in the House of Representatives criticized President Barack Obama on Sunday for “not leading” and “ducking responsibility” for the nation’s fiscal problems. His administration “isn’t even trying” to reduce the deficit, Paul Ryan said.
On NBC’s Meet the Press last week, the president’s chief of staff argued that “the time for austerity is not today” because fiscal restraint would imperil the economic recovery. Democratic proponents of continued deficit spending point to Greece as an example of what happens if a government cuts back too fast.
Ryan begged to differ. He warned on the same program this Sunday that if America doesn’t rein in spending soon, “it gets ugly, like Greece, and then you have to impose the kind of austerity that they’re imposing in Greece.”
The congressman from Wisconsin championed tax reform besides deficit reduction in order to fuel economic growth and “actually get more revenues into the government that way.” However, he was critical of extending a temporary payroll tax cut that was part of the president’s original stimulus package.
These temporary sugar high economics, these stimulus effects just don’t work to grow the economy and they’re a very poor substitute for lowering tax rates, for having predictable regulations, for getting rid of crony capitalism, for addressing the real drivers of our debt which would do so much more for our economy.
The Republican budget that Paul authored and was enacted by the House majority last year would have reduced federal spending relative to current projections by more than $6 trillion over the coming decade compared to $4 trillion under the president’s plan. The latter includes $1 trillion in “savings” achieved by ending the wars in Afghanistan and Iran however; a gimmick according to Republicans because neither conflict was ever expected to last for another ten years.
The president doesn’t question the need for fiscal consolidation in the long term but believes in a “balanced approach” that also reduces the deficit by raising taxes on the wealthy.
Democratic congressman Chris Van Hollen, who appeared on Meet the Press besides Ryan, similarly argued that there is no question “about whether or not we should reduce the long-term deficit. It’s how,” he said.
The Republicans’ approach, according to Van Hollen, is tilted in favor of the rich. “They want to take it all out on middle income Americans,” he said, “because they do not want to ask folks at the very high end to pitch in.”
Republicans have rejected tax increases and proposed to privatize Medicare, which finances health care for seniors, for future generations. Democrats do not want to reform entitlements even, as Paul pointed out, they are willing to ration care in an effort to reduce costs.