By Russell Berman - 02/15/11 04:06 PM EST
Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) on Tuesday vowed that Republicans “will not punt” on critical entitlement spending when they release their proposed budget in the spring.
“Republicans will not punt,” Boehner told reporters at a press conference convened to denounce President Obama’s budget proposal. “Everything is on the table. We will put forward a budget that deals with the challenges that face our country.”
“I have no doubt that all of these issues would be on the table,” Boehner said.
“The biggest danger to our country is if we do not act,” he added. “The status quo is shackling our kids and grandkids. That’s why I believe we have to act.”
Boehner and Ryan underscored the promise in a joint statement issued hours later, designed to respond to claims the Republican leadership had sent mixed signals about whether their budget would include entitlement reforms.
“Our budget will lead where the president has failed, and it will include real entitlement reforms so that we can have a conversation with the American people about the challenges we face and the need to chart a new path to prosperity,” Boehner and Ryan said. “Our reforms will focus both on saving these programs for current and future generations of Americans and on getting our debt under control and our economy growing.”
On Monday, Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) told reporters the GOP budget would include entitlement reform, while in a separate appearance Ryan dodged the same question.
In the press conference, Republican leaders assailed Obama’s budget both for spending and taxing too much, as well as for “punting” on the entitlement programs that contribute to the majority of the nation’s long-term deficits.
The chairman of the House Republican Conference, Rep. Jeb Hensarling (Texas), said the budget was “dripping in red ink” and represented “a complete abdication of the president’s leadership.”
“We will show the leadership the president has not,” Hensarling said.
This post was updated at 2:43 p.m.