Ryan: Spending caps not enough

The administration must agree to actual spending cuts to win GOP support for raising the debt ceiling, a key Republican said Thursday.

Speaking before the first round of deficit talks between Vice President Biden and lawmakers, House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) said spending caps will not be enough to get a deal.

“Caps in and of themselves, alone, I don't think our conference would accept that,” Ryan said. He said the GOP wants a “down payment” on spending cuts.

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Ryan said Republicans are “under no delusions” they will get everything they want in negotiations with Biden, but will begin the talks using the House-approved 2012 budget as a starting point. He reiterated what he has said for weeks — that getting a “single or a double” instead of a home run is the goal of the talks.

The House budget, prepared by Ryan, cuts $5.8 trillion over 10 years and turns Medicare into a type of voucher system. 

Democrats have blasted Ryan's budget for its proposals on Medicare and Medicaid, and Republicans have said for weeks that fundamental entitlement reform is unlikely to come out of the Biden talks.

Ryan, who spoke at an event sponsored by American Council for Capital Formation, noted that his budget contains a statutory cap on discretionary spending, an overall cap on spending as a percentage of the economy and a debt trigger.

The White House and Democrats are embracing the idea of a debt trigger that would force automatic spending cuts or tax increases if the debt is not declining as a percentage of the economy.

But Ryan said tax increases are “off the table” for Republicans and triggers for automatic tax increases are a “cop-out” for those who cannot cut spending.