Ryan: House budget only a ‘down payment’ on looming debt crisis

Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), architect of the House GOP budget plan unveiled last week, defended his proposal Sunday, saying it was Washington’s best chance to make a “down payment” and avoid a looming debt crisis.

“My goal and hope with this budget is that now that the Senate is actually doing a budget, is that we now have this vehicle, this legislative process, which was always intended to work this way,” said Ryan on CBS’s “Face the Nation.” “The House passes a budget, the Senate passes a budget, talk with the president and let’s get a down payment on the problem.”

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Ryan acknowledged that it was unlikely Obama would sign the House GOP budget into law. 

“But let’s get a down payment, let’s get a good start on the problem. That, to me, is something that a constructive, bipartisan engagement can accomplish” he said.

The House Budget Committee chairman said he welcomed Obama’s outreach to congressional lawmakers but would wait and see if the president was sincere about reaching an accord on a grand deficit deal or would resume campaigning.

Ryan said he also agreed with Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), who said the U.S. was not facing a debt crisis right now.

“We do not have a debt crisis right now, but we see it coming. We know it is irrefutably happening. The point we are trying to make with our budget is: Let’s get ahead of this problem,” Ryan warned. “If we keep kicking the can down the road, if we follow the president’s lead or if we pass the Senate budget then we will have a debt crisis. Then everybody gets hurt”

Ryan joked that the country was like the “healthiest looking horse in the glue factory.”

Ryan’s budget unveiled last week would balance the budget in 10 years through $5.7 trillion in spending cuts over the next decade.  Ryan's plan assumes repeal of the administration's healthcare plan and would offer payments to seniors who opt out of Medicare for private insurance coverage.

Democrats quickly criticized the proposal, saying Ryan recycled the same ideas from his last budget and warning that the spending cuts and changes to Medicare would hurt the poor and seniors.

Ryan defended the plan, saying it was “what people want” from Washington.

“Our budget is a vision document, our budget encapsulates what we think is the right way to go: Fundamental tax reform for economic growth, patient centered healthcare replacing ‘ObamaCare,’ getting our budget balanced. It’s a responsible balanced budget,” said Ryan.

The House GOP plan also calls for tax reform that eliminates loopholes to cut the seven individual tax brackets to just two: 10 percent and 25 percent. 

Both the House and Senate are set to vote on their budget proposals this week.

Speaker Boehner on Sunday said he remained unconvinced either side will be able to come together on a large-scale deficit deal, but said that the competing budget plans offered hope that both sides in Congress would again talk seriously about a deal.

“I don't know whether we can come to a big agreement,” said Boehner in an interview on ABC’s “This Week.” 

“If the president doesn't believe that the goal ought to be to balance the budget over the next ten years-- I don't-- not sure we're going to get very far,” he added.