House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) told his colleagues Wednesday that Barack Obama and the Democratic Senate are “deluding” themselves regarding the national deficit.
Ryan said, “It seems as if they think the heavy lifting on debt reduction, deficit reduction is behind us, we have just a little bit left and then we’re done. I really worry that our partners in government, here — two-thirds of it, the Senate and the White House — are deluding themselves in thinking this thing is taken care of.”
Ryan was reacting to Obama’s State of the Union address, in which the President said that because of spending agreements reached in 2011 and $600 billion in new tax revenue from the tax hike in January, more than $2 trillion in debt reduction has been achieved, which would “stabilize” debt growth. Ryan retorted, “The notion that we already have $2.5 trillion in deficit reduction in the bank, that we don’t have much farther to go to finish the job. This calculation does not count the spending that took place in that time.”
Ryan quoted the Congressional Budget Office’s projections, which showed that under Obama, publicly-held debt doubled from 36 percent to 73 percent of the economy, and it would rise to 87 percent if sequestration’s cuts and Medicare cuts are canceled by Congress. He warned, “We’re in a danger zone …Even if we got every tax increase the president has called for we are not even scratching the surface. The other problem is growth. If we keep chasing higher spending with higher taxes we will hurt growth.”
Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), the top-ranking Democrat on Ryan’s committee, defended Obama for missing the budget deadline, saying it was the fault of Congress for talking so long while dealing with the “fiscal cliff.” Van Hollen continued that Ryan’s plan to balance the budget in the next 10 years by sticking to spending cuts only didn’t make economic sense.
Ryan responded, “I would say having a balanced budget is a good economics, I guess we just disagree on that point.”