Political Punch Podcast: Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wisc.

By Nitya

Feb 10, 2010 4:11pm

On this week's podcast, we spoke to Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan, the ranking Republican on the House Budget Committee.


Rep. Ryan’s proposals on health care reform and reducing the budget deficit are receiving a lot of attention in the political world — not all of it positive. 


You can download the podcast on iTunes or listen to it HERE.  The podcast is produced by Huma Khan and Lindsey Ellerson.


When President Obama appeared at the House GOP retreat a couple weeks ago, he singled out Ryan as a Republican with serious ideas, even if he disagrees with many of them.


Ryan asked the president if he could support a proposal he's worked on with Sen. Russ Feingold, D-Wisc., for a line item veto.


Their proposal would be constitutional, Ryan said, keeping the “power of the purse” with Congress but giving the president the tool to pull out pork from legislation. 


“It’s not going to solve our entire fiscal problem, but it kind of goes at the culture of spending, and it embarrasses a lot of the pork out of the budget,” Ryan said. “If (Nebraska Democratic Sen.) Ben Nelson knew that the "Cornhusker Kickback' that he got for his state and only his state might have to be voted on independently later by his peers, he might not ask for it in the first place.  And, so that’s kind of the chilling effect on a lot of the waste and a lot of the deal cutting that’s going on around here that we think our deal will achieve.” 


When it comes to health care, Ryan is proposing a drastic change to Medicare, a plan under which seniors get a voucher to buy private insurance.


He argues that Republicans need to stand firm on their principles, but he admits that former President George W. Bush and Republicans were fiscally irresponsible when I pressed him on that. 


“I’m not going to argue with that,” he said. “The problem our party had was we were soft on spending. … A lot of us fought this stuff in the majority at the time but we were in the minority (in the majority) and the minority lost those fights.


"We need to acknowledge to the American people we did things wrong," he continued, "especially when it came to spending, and we’ve got to learn from those mistakes and make sure that we don’t repeat them. I think we owe it to voters to acknowledge this and if you don’t acknowledge the mistakes were made, then they don’t think you learned your lesson.” 


Ryan, considered a rising star of the party, says the Republican leadership needs to have an “adult conversation” about the economic situation of the country. 


“We need to have a real adult conversation in this country about the future of our country because you know what, the future — our fiscal situation is really dire and getting worse very quickly,” he said. “Europe is on the cusp of a debt crisis right now. We can’t ignore these facts. We can’t assume that because we’re America we’re immune to these problems.” 


At the same time, Ryan says it’s unfair to label Republicans as the “Party of No.” 


“Many of us in the Republican party have offered full comprehensive ideas," he insisted.


On President Obama’s appeal for bipartisanship, Ryan is hopeful, but he assailed the Democratic leadership for being unwilling to listen to Republican ideas. 


“I know that there are Democrats for sure that we can work with to get things done, but you know what, those. aren’t the Democrats running Washington right now,” he said. “The Democrats running Washington right now tell people like me, ‘we’re not going to work with you, we’re doing it our way because we’ve got the votes, and we’re just going to run right over you.’ … You don’t have the common sense, hash-out-the-problem, thinking Democrats running the place right now.” 


You can download the podcast on iTunes or listen to it HERE:



– jpt

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