ABC News’ Matthew Jaffe reports:
Republicans like House Budget Committee chairman Paul Ryan didn’t want to pronounce President Obama’s 2012 budget proposal dead on arrival before it was unveiled. Now that the budget has been released, they’re calling it something else.
“Debt on arrival. D-E-B-T on arrival,” Ryan said at a press conference today. “Look, he raises spending everywhere. He raises taxes everywhere, increases borrowing. The trajectory of this budget is in the wrong direction. It would be better if we did nothing than actually pass this budget.”
“Our problem is we are running out of road to keep kicking this can down,” Ryan said. “And so what did we just get today? We got a punt. The president punted on the budget and he punted on the deficit and on the debt. That’s not leadership.”
“When you pull aside the curtain and look at all the smoke and the mirrors, it looks like to me like this thing has about eight dollars of tax increases for one dollar of spending cuts,” he said.
The Wisconsin Republican warned that if the nation fails to tackle its growing fiscal problems soon, then a full-blown crisis awaits.
“It’s not too late to right our ship and get our economy growing, get our debt headed in the right direction, and get America’s fiscal problems solved. But if we keep postponing this, if we keep punting like this budget does, then there will come a moment when it is too late.”
“By tackling this fiscal challenge,” he said later, “we can grow the economy today, create jobs, and give our kids a better country. That’s after all what we’re supposed to be doing here. When you see our leader – the President of the United States – seeing this, knowing this, acknowledging it, and ducking it, that is why we’re so disappointed today.”
Ryan’s counterpart on the Senate side – Alabama’s Jeff Sessions, the top Republican on the Senate Budget panel – highlighted comments by Erskine Bowles, the Democratic chairman of the President’s debt commission, saying that the White House proposal goes “nowhere near where they will have to go to resolve our fiscal nightmare.”
That, said Sessions, is “a major condemnation of what’s happened here.”
Specifically, Sessions criticized the president for not attempting to wrestle with entitlement reforms, for instance.
“We’re taking on something as complex as entitlements, as deeply emotional as entitlements, and the president of the United States is not even in the game? He doesn’t even suggest it has to be done?” Sessions said. “You know, my wife says to me when I complain, ‘Don’t blame me. You asked for the job.’ And he asked for the job.”
However at today’s press conference the GOP lawmakers were repeatedly pressed on whether Ryan will take a serious stab at entitlement reforms in the Republican budget proposal later this spring.
“I can’t tell you what our budget will be because we haven’t written it yet,” Ryan replied.
But that didn’t stop the questions.
“How many times are you guys going to keep asking me this? I’m not committing on what’s going to be in our budget because we haven’t even written our budget yet,” an exasperated Ryan finally said. “Obviously we think entitlement reform – that’s the biggest slice of the pie so clearly we need to go there, but I’m not going to get into what it’s going to do and specifics and how it’s going to work because we haven’t written it yet. Anybody who knows anything about me knows that we need to tackle entitlements or they’re going to tackle us.”
That proposal is set to be released in March or April.