Paul Ryan: Debt Likely to be Greatest Topic of 2012 Election

House Budget Committee Chair says political contenders will need debt solutions

WASHINGTON, May 1, 2011— -- The federal debt has been a hot topic on Washington for months, but will the deficit dominate the campaign trails in 2012? House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan said he thinks it will.

"The finished product of how we ultimately solve this debt crisis, I think, is going to become probably the greatest topic of the 2012 election," Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., told "This Week" anchor Christiane Amanpour.

Ryan expressed optimism for getting some form of an agreement worked out between Democratic and Republican lawmakers in the near future but cautioned that the real decision would likely have to be made by voters in the 2012 election.

"We're probably not going to get some grand slam agreement that fixes all of these problems," Ryan told Amanpour while driving to a town hall meeting in Wisconsin. "My hope now is to get a single or a double, you know, to get something done that gets us on the right path, that gets some control of spending to calm down the situation in the markets, to get the economy growing."

Political Leadership

As Congressmen and women return from Washington to their home states, some have been met with contention from constituents who fear that their entitlement benefits like Medicare and Social Security will be taken away or drastically reduced under the proposed Ryan budget. Events in Florida and Wisconsin, including a town hall hosted by Rep. Ryan, have been interrupted by demonstrations.

Ryan insists that despite these fears, it is the responsibility of elected officials to take necessary actions to ensure the stability of the nation.

"They want their political leaders to act like leaders," Ryan told Amanpour. "If they see a big problem on the horizon, do something about it before it gets out of control. That's what we're doing. Yes, it's a little controversial because it involves change, but nothing is more ugly, nothing is more disruptive to people's lives than the status quo of going down the path of this debt crisis."