Ryan: 'Not surprised' by S&P downgrade

House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) said he was "not ver surprised" by S&P's decision to downgrade the nation’s credit rating, and said he would serve on the debt "supercommittee" if chosen by Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio).

"I'm not very surprised of this downgrade. We more or less saw this coming because we're on the wrong fiscal path," Ryan said on "Fox News Sunday."

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He said the decision was a warning shot that "Washington has not gotten its fiscal house in order."

Ryan also expressed concern that a rise in interest rates would add to the deficit.

"If we go up another point, it adds about $1 trillion or more over the 10-year window," said Ryan. "We'll find out tomorrow what kind of spike in rates we're going to get. But, obviously, not only does it hurt the federal government in its ability to close the deficits, but it hurts people. You know, car loans, home loans, all these things are going to go up."

S&P, the credit rating firm, reduced the nation's rating Friday from AAA to AA+. The firm said the recent plan to raise the debt limit while reducing the debt "falls short" of expectations and said they were "pessimistic" about the ability of Congress and the White House to reach a broader plan to rein in the deficit "any time soon."


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Ryan said "both political parties are responsible," but said the nation's debt problems would not be resolved until the Democrats were willing to address serious entitlement reform.

"The president has been unwilling to put out a plan on entitlements," said Ryan. He added that in S&P’s view, entitlements were the "primary drivers of this debt."

"They brought us to this downgrade," he said of benefits spending.

Ryan praised the budget plan he drafted, which passed the Republican-controlled House, as a solution which would have avoided a credit-rating downgrade. "We passed a budget which according to somebody from S&P yesterday would have prevented this downgrade from happening in the first place," said Ryan.

With the debate over raising the debt ceiling over, lawmakers are turning attention toward efforts to boost the nation's employment.

Ryan dismissed suggestions that Washington would need to provide a new stimulus package.

Ryan said that approach had been tried before by the Obama administration and had failed.

"I don’t want to repeat the same mistakes. ... It would simply exacerbate our debt problems," Ryan said about Democratic suggestions more stimulus measures could be in the works.

Ryan instead called for comprehensive tax reform to jump-start the economy and entitlement reform to give Wall Street confidence that leaders would tackle the nation's debt.

"The best thing we can do right now is fundamental tax reform, to get us a tax system that is internationally competitive," said Ryan.

Ryan also expressed a willingness to serve on the debt-ceiling agreement’s so-called "supercommittee."

"Yes, I would," he said when asked if he would serve if chosen by Speaker Boehner.

The debt-ceiling-increase legislation enacted last week created a bicameral, joint committee of 12 legislators charged with finding at least $1.2 trillion in deficit cuts by Nov. 23.

The Republican and Democratic leaders in the House and Senate each will pick three members for the committee.

Ryan though downplayed expectations for the supercommittee.

“I’m not putting my stock in this committee. People are overemphasizing what this committee will achieve,” said Ryan.

He expects lawmakers on the supercommittee to find more spending cuts, but said that the nation won't see the spending reductions it needs until the Democrats are willing to cut entitlements.

“They don’t even want to go at structural entitlement reform,” he said.