Keep the Government Open? Only At Reduced Levels, Rep. Ryan Says

By Kate McCarthy

Feb 15, 2011 8:57am

House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan put the White House on notice today: funding to keep the government open after the money runs out on March 4th will have to be cut.

“We obviously don’t want to see a shutdown occur,” he told me on "GMA." “But at the same time George, we don’t want to rubber stamp these extremely high and elevated spending levels.”

Ryan conceded that the Senate is unlikely to act on the cuts the House hopes to pass this week before the March 4 deadline: “That means we are going to have to negotiate some short term extensions while we get to the long term fix.”
And he knows that Tea Party budget hawks in his own conference won’t go along with the levels passed by Congress during December’s lame-duck session.

So what will the deal be?  1% across the board?  5%?  A billion dollars a week?  The bidding’s just beginning, and Administration officials concede cuts may be necessary too. But no one’s ready to put a public number out there yet, and no one knows what the coalition to prevent a government shutdown will look like.

Ryan also criticized the president’s budget proposal for not cutting enough and promised the GOP’s proposal will actually reduce our deficit more than the White House’s plan.

“Of course we will…the president punted on the budget. Look I am very disappointed, I was actually hoping for some sincere presidential leadership. The biggest threat to our country and our economy is our debt,” he said.

I asked Ryan how he intends to propose a budget that includes even more cuts considering Republicans have ruled out tax increases, meaning they will have to come up with another $1.6 trillion in savings just to break even with the president’s plan. 

“You have to do entitlement reform if you are serious about this budget, if you are serious about this debt,” he told me. “And the point I keep making about entitlement reform, the sooner we tackle it the better off everybody is.”

Ryan said Republicans will tackle these budget busting programs when they release their proposal.

“If we ignore the drivers of our debt, which are these entitlement programs, then we’re no better than the president and we are not leading,” he said.

Watch my interview with Ryan here:

George Stephanopoulos

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