Not surprisingly, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Janesville) thinks the nation's economy would have been in a much better shape by now had November's presidential election ended differently.
But it didn't.
Instead, there's a polarizing political divide between the parties that's not moving the economy--or much of anything--in Washington, leaving Americans feeling deeply frustrated.
"Tell me about frustration," Ryan said in a newsroom interview at CSI Media's Delavan offices Monday, May 13. "We're still in stalemate. Our positions are so far apart right now."
Ryan, who serves the 1st Congressional District, said the Republicans' proposed budget would balance the budget by reforming entitlements, cut wasteful spending and reform the tax system for growth. President Barack Obama, he said, wants $1.1 trillion in new taxes and $1 trillion in new spending.
When asked if there's a way to break the logjam, Ryan said both sides are working on it.
"What we're trying to do this summer and fall is see where we can find common ground and cut past that and buy the country time," he said. "I'm the lead negotiator in the House for these negotiations, but it's too premature to speculate. I don't want to give my sense on where I think it's going to go because I'm in the middle of negotiations right now."
Ryan said he'll be optimistic if the budget agreement includes "spending discipline, deficit and debt reduction and economic growth policies."
He said a key piece of legislation will be tax reform that closes loopholes and lowers tax rates across the board to make companies more competitive.
"The biggest piece of policy I hope to get out of this is tax reform," Ryan said. "There are a lot of moderate Democrats who agree with this in the Senate. We're working with them and we're hoping that the president will come along. But I don't know the answer to that at the end of the day."
Ryan believes the $2 trillion in available corporate capital is "just sitting on the sidelines," and that tax reform will spur business owners into creating jobs.
"They need the confidence of tax reform to remove uncertainty in the market place," he said.
Ryan was visiting the newsroom as part of promoting his mobile office, which will be making stops locally in the next few weeks (see schedule below).
During the interview, Ryan gave his take on a few other topics:
Immigration reform: "Everyone agreed the system is broken, but we need to fix it in an enduring way," he said.
When asked about his vote against the Dream Act in 2010--legislation that paved a path for undocumented young adults to achieve citizenship, Ryan said immigration reform needs to be comprehensive and enduring, not made in a piecemeal approach.
Gun control: "Do we need a better NICS (National Instant Criminal Background Check System)? Yes. But a universal registry is a slippery slope that leads to violation of the Second Amendment."
Ryan is against a ban on assault weapons. "(Many people) don't know that fully automatic assault weapons are already banned. But semi-automatic weapons have been lawfully used for hunting, home protection and target practice. My duck gun is a semi-automatic."
Criticism that his budget proposal conflicts with Catholic social teaching: "Big government produces welfare state-ism and dependency. Free enterprise has done more to right the tide, to bring people out of poverty, than any other system."
Ryan said letting community organizations such as churches, charities and civic groups who know the needs of the poor best should be the ones to handle the problems directly.
Bring your concerns to Ryan's mobile office
Ryan's mobile constituent services office van will be making stops in Walworth County over the next few weeks. Here are the days and places:
East Troy: Thursdays, May 23, June 20, and July11, from noon to 1 p.m., parking lot of the East Troy Police Department, 2015 Energy Drive.
Elkhorn: Tuesdays, May 28, and June 25, from 1:45-2:45 p.m., parking lot of Walworth County Sheriff's Department, 1770 County Highway NN.
Delavan: Tuesdays, May 28, and June 25, from 12:15-1:15 p.m., parking lot of the Delavan Municipal Building, 123 South 2nd St.
Darien: Tuesdays, May 28, and June 25, from 10:45-11:45 a.m., with street parking outside the Darien Village Hall/Police Department, 20 North Wisconsin Street.
Genoa City: Wednesday, May 15, and Thursday, August 1, from noon to 1:00 p.m., with street parking outside the Genoa City Village Hall, 715 Walworth Street.
Lake Geneva: Wednesday, May 15, and Thursday, August 1, from 10:30-11:30 a.m., with municipal parking lot across from the Lake Geneva Police Department, 626 Geneva Street.
Williams Bay: Wednesday, May 15, and Thursday, August 1, from 9:00-10:00 a.m., parking lot of the Williams Bay Police Department, 250 Williams Street.
Sharon: Wednesdays, May 29, June 26, and Tuesday, July 16, from 9:15-10:15 a.m., street parking in front of the Sharon Village Hall, 125 Plain Street.
Walworth: Tuesdays, May 28, and June 25, from 9:15-10:15 a.m., street parking in front of the Walworth Village Hall, 227 North Main Street.