Responding To Representative Ryan

House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan offered an interesting take on the President’s leadership on dealing with our long-term debt and deficits the recent deficit reduction negotiations in today’s Wall Street Journal. Below are a few of Congressman Ryan’s claims along with our responses.

Claim: The President has failed to put forward a plan to tackle our long term debt and deficits.

  • Since the beginning of the current debate on the debt ceiling, the President has led with a comprehensive plan for deficit reduction.
     
  • In April, the President released a fiscal framework for $4 trillion in deficit reduction, which described the President’s plans for closing tax loopholes and for responsible reforms of Medicare and Medicaid so they are strengthened for future generations. 
     
  • Beginning less than a week after he announced this Framework, the President led four separate efforts to negotiate a compromise on the debt limit – talks with Vice President Joe Biden, meetings with all eight Congressional leaders from both parties, and two rounds of negotiations directly with Speaker Boehner.
     
  • Throughout this process, the Administration put forward specific policy proposals with the goal of reaching an agreement on a $4 trillion package – an agreement which Speaker Boehner ultimately walked away from.

Claim: The GOP “won the policy debate” during the debt negotiations. 

  • We believe that this agreement was not a victory for one party, but for the American people. If Congress did not act and allowed the United States to default on its obligations, the results would have been catastrophic for our economy and for millions of Americans still digging out from the last recession.
     
  • The debt agreement is consistent with the President’s commitment to protecting our nation from default and achieving significant deficit reduction through a balanced approach.  It represents an important down payment on reform of about $1 trillion and sets the stage for additional balanced deficit reduction by the end of the year.
     
  • In enacting this bill, the President held to his principles—and prevented Republicans from ending Medicare as we know it, slashing Medicaid, and threatening Social Security. 
     
  • The President prevented Republicans from using the prospect of default as leverage again in six months by pushing any additional debt limit increases to 2013.
     
  • The cuts in the first phase are balanced between domestic and security spending, while protecting critical initiatives like aid for college students. 
     
  • If the new Joint Committee on Deficit Reduction fails to act, the law includes a balanced enforcement mechanism—that divides automatic cuts 50-50 between defense and non-defense with low-income programs exempted. 

Claim: The President “warned Republican leaders not to call his bluff by sending him a bill without tax increases.”

  • As the AP reported, President Obama warned Republicans not to call his bluff “by passing a short-term debt limit increase he has threatened to veto.”
     
  • The President stood firm and forced Republicans to back down, preventing them from using the prospect of default as leverage again in six months by ensuring that any additional debt limit increases will not be needed until 2013.

Claim: Spending on Medicare, Medicaid and the Affordable Care Act is projected to skyrocket, while the House Republicans’ budget outlined a responsible approach to Medicare and Medicaid Reform.

  • The Affordable Care Act was fully paid for, and according to the CBO will reduce the deficit by $200 billion over the next 10 years and by more than $1 trillion in the next decade.
     
  • The Affordable Care Act will provide coverage to 34 million Americans and will extend the life of the Medicare trust fund.
     
  • The House Republican plan would convert Medicare into a voucher program; increasing seniors’ health costs by $6,400 annually starting in 2022; raise health insurance premiums for middle-class Americans and small businesses; and cut Federal Medicaid spending by one-third by the end of the decade, which would cause 50 million to lose coverage.

Claim: The House Republicans’ plan would put the budget on a path to balance without tax increases, while President Obama tried to use the debt ceiling negotiations to raise taxes.

  • The House Republicans’ plan would also put the nation on a path to end the guarantee of Medicare for our seniors while imposing deep spending cuts that would harm our economy to balance out tax cuts for the highest income earners.
     
  • Their approach locks in many of the irresponsible policies that brought us to the debt limit this week including tax cuts for the wealthy, big corporations and special interests.
     
  • In stark contrast, the President stands committed to a balanced approach with responsible entitlement reform, and comprehensive tax reform that produces a system which is fairer, has fewer loopholes, less complexity, and is not rigged in favor of those who can afford lawyers and accountants to game it.
Stephanie Cutter is Assistant to the President and Deputy Senior Advisor
Related Topics: Economy, Debt Debate
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