Americans should prepare themselves for spending cuts by Congress next year, the chairmen of the House and Senate's budget committees said Friday.
Both Sen. Kent Conrad (D-N.D.), the chairman of the Senate Budget Committee, and Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), the incoming chairman of the House Budget Committee, signaled that they're preparing budgets that would seek cuts to government spending in order to address the deficit.
Conrad said he'd look to the recommendations by President Obama's fiscal commission as a "starting point," and then look to craft a budget that improves on those proposals.
"I have a list of things that I'd like to see improved. The domestic spending cuts went too far, because mandatory spending is really where the problem lies," Conrad told Bloomberg Television in an interview to air this weekend. "That has now become about two-thirds of our budget, the so-called mandatory accounts — Social Security, Medicare and the rest. We're going to have to achieve savings there, and we can do that without hurting Medicare beneficiaries."
Both Conrad and Ryan were members of the fiscal commission — the former supported the panel's recommendations, while the latter voted against them. But both will be in charge of negotiations for their respective chambers and parties to hash out an agreement on the budget for the next year.
The lawmakers cited an expected vote early next year to raise the U.S. debt limit as a turning point in the fight to reduce spending.
"We intend to do lots of spending cuts and lots of spending reforms as soon as we take over in January," Ryan said. "The debt ceiling, obviously, is going to have to be increased if we're not going to default, so the question is, what do we get in exchange for that, and what kind of fiscal controls?"