CBS "Face the Nation" - Transcript


By:  Paul Ryan
Date: April 17, 2011
Location: Unknown


BOB SCHIEFFER: And good morning again. We begin with Congressman Ryan, who is back
home in the City Of Parks, Janesville, Wisconsin. Congressman, thanks for joining us. Here's a
little news. Senate-- Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner told Meet the Press this morning that
Republican leaders have privately told the President they will not stand in the way of raising the debt ceiling. That of course, the debt ceiling is, if-- if you don't raise it, the government would have to go into default on its financial obligations. Have-- have your leaders told you that they have told the President that?
REPRESENTATIVE PAUL RYAN (R-Wisconsin/Chairman, Budget Committee): No, they
haven't. But what they have also told me they've told the President is that in addition to raising the debt limit we want financial controls. We want cuts in spending accompanying a raising of the debt ceiling. And that is what I believe they've told the President.
BOB SCHIEFFER: Well, the way the Treasury secretary is telling it this morning, they have just
assured the President they would not play around with the country's--
REPRESENTATIVE PAUL RYAN (overlapping): I don't--
BOB SCHIEFFER: --credit rating.
REPRESENTATIVE PAUL RYAN: Nobody wants to play around with the country's credit rating.
Nobody wants to see defaults happening but we also think it's important to get a handle on
future borrowing as we deal with raising the debt limit. So nobody is saying we want to see
default. We just want to get some cuts and controls in spending going forward. And that is what we've been telling the White House.
BOB SCHIEFFER: So-- then what you're saying is there's no news here that-- that-- what they
REPRESENTATIVE PAUL RYAN (overlapping): No news-- no news as far as I know.
BOB SCHIEFFER (overlapping): -- is what they've been saying publicly. You're confident of
REPRESENTATIVE PAUL RYAN (overlapping): That's right. That's right.
BOB SCHIEFFER (overlapping): You're confident of that?
REPRESENTATIVE PAUL RYAN: I am confident of that. I am confident of that. I told Tim
Geithner that myself.
BOB SCHIEFFER: Okay. Congressman, you heard the President's speech. You didn't like it
very much and said so. But then the President was out talking to some campaign con--
contributors out in Chicago and it turns out the conversation was recorded and about your plan and about you, he was using words he basically said you were irresponsible. I want you to hear what he said.
PRESIDENT BARAK OBAMA (Chicago Fundraiser, April 14; recording): So when-- and when
Paul Ryan says his priority is to make sure that we're, you know-- he's just being America's
accountant and, you know trying to, you know, be responsible. I mean this is the same guy who voted for two wars that were unpaid for, voted for the Bush tax cuts that were unpaid for, voted for the prescription drug bill that cost as much as my health care bill but wasn't paid for. So it's not on the level.
BOB SCHIEFFER: So what about that, congressman?
REPRESENTATIVE PAUL RYAN: Look, I could go point by point on all of those things but I
don't see how productive it would be to get into a partisan bickering match with the President.
I'm just not going to do that because we've got things to do. And, the way I look at things, Bob, is we have divided government right now. We have work to do, problems to solve. In a divided government I think it helps if we treat each other with respect. There's plenty of time for campaigning. Look, the President doesn't have a primary opponent. He doesn't even have an announced Republican opponent yet. There is plenty of time for him to do campaigning later. Right now, we got things to do, we got problems to solve. And so I think it would just be more productive if we put the campaign rhetoric aside and get on to focusing on treating each other with respect. And look, both parties have done this to each other. I'm not saying, you know, only one party does this. But I think the tone gets set at the top. And I think it would be more productive if the tone set at the top was one more of mutual respect, one more of getting things done and coming together to solve problems.
BOB SCHIEFFER: Well, you know, that is a little bit different than what you told-- told Charlie
Rose right after the President's speech. You said, "I guess we're going to have to do this without the President. We're not getting any leadership from him." You seem to be saying--
REPRESENTATIVE PAUL RYAN (overlapping): Well--
BOB SCHIEFFER: --then that that you weren't even willing to sit down with him. Are you now
willing to sit down with the other side?
REPRESENTATIVE PAUL RYAN: Oh, of course, I am. I wasn't saying-- I was not saying we
aren't willing-- we'd never been invited to sit down with him. What I was talking about time wise, he appointed a Fiscal Commission last year to-- to come up with solutions. They came up with solutions. He disavowed their solutions. And now he's coming up with yet another commission to come up with solutions. My point is we need to lead and we shouldn't be delegating these tough decisions to other people to make. We've got to make tough decisions to save our country from a debt crisis, to get this economy growing and to pay off our debts, so our children get a debt-free nation. That's what we're doing. We're putting actual ideas on the table to fix these problems. We're not asking other people to do it. And so my point is if-- if our leaders are not actually leading, that doesn't get things done. And so, we're going to lead. We're putting ideas out there. And we're not kicking it to other people to make decisions like other commissions. And that's the point I was making when I was talking to Charlie Rose.
BOB SCHIEFFER: You know, you-- you have two very different approaches that are now out
there. The President wants to raise--
BOB SCHIEFFER: --taxes on the wealthiest Americans. He wants to keep Medicare in place.
The big part of the savings in your plan is to do away with Medicare, replace it with private
insurance that would be subsidized by the government, and you actually want to lower taxes on the wealthy, even lower than the Bush tax cuts which were enacted during the Bush
administration. I-- I guess the question I would have, congressman, why do these rich people
need another tax cut? I mean they're already rich. They seem to be doing pretty well as it is
now. Why cut their taxes some more?
REPRESENTATIVE PAUL RYAN: So first of all, we're not talking about cutting taxes. We're just
not agreeing with the President's tax increases. I guess that's the new definition of tax cuts.
We're saying keep tax rates where they are right now. And get rid of all those loopholes and
deductions, which by the way are mostly enjoyed by wealthy people so you can lower tax rates. We're basically taking a page out of the play book of the Fiscal Commission, the President's Fiscal Commission supported by a majority of Democrats said the same thing--broaden the tax base lower the tax rates for economic growth, a simpler, flatter fair tax code more internationally competitive so we can create jobs. That's what we're proposing. This isn't tax cuts. It's tax reform targeting our revenues at where they are right now. We're just signing on to all the tax increases that the President is proposing. And Medicare, let me just tell you, no change would occur to anybody fifty-five years of age or above. The problem is Medicare goes bankrupt in nine years. Unless we do something to save it, it won't be there for future generations like my generation. And the ideas we're talking about for reforming Medicare is a system that works just like the one that I have as a member of Congress, that federal employees have. It works like the prescription drug benefit works now for seniors, which has proven to lower costs and expand choices. And also it's an idea that has come from both parties in the past. It has-- traditionally had bipartisan support in the past. And I would simply say the President had one idea he gave us on Wednesday, which is have this board of fifteen people that he appoints ration and price control Medicare for current seniors. So we just don't think government rationing on Medicare is the answer. We think we should keep the promise to current seniors and people ten years away from retiring, but then reform the system for the next generation, so that it's safe and solvent for current seniors and for future generations because Medicare is going bankrupt.
BOB SCHIEFFER: All right, let-- let me go back to what you said there at the top. You say
you're not for cutting taxes. But am I misinformed? I thought you were talking about lowering
that rate for the top--
REPRESENTATIVE PAUL RYAN (overlapping): In exchange for deductions.
BOB SCHIEFFER: --income taxpayers back to about twenty-five percent, so isn't that a tax cut?
REPRESENTATIVE PAUL RYAN (overlapping): That's right. In ex-- in exchange for losing your
deductions, so in exchange for losing the loopholes and deductions that mostly higher income
earners use, so what we're saying is keep tax revenues where they are, don't lower tax
revenues but clean up the tax code so that it works. If you have really high tax rates what you
end up doing is you penalize small businesses. You have to remember, Bob, most successful
small businesses file their taxes as individuals. Most of our jobs come from these small
businesses. The President is proposing to raise the top tax rate on these small businesses to
44.8 percent. We don't think that's good for jobs. We don't think that's good for economic
growth. And when we tax our employers a whole lot more than our foreign competitors tax
theirs, we lose, they win and we don't want that. So just like the Fiscal Commission, the
bipartisan Fiscal Commission said, lower tax rates, broaden the tax base for economic growth
and that's exactly what we're proposing.
BOB SCHIEFFER: I-- I guess the part that I don't quite understand and I take your proposal to
be a serious one but the part I don't understand is.
REPRESENTATIVE PAUL RYAN (overlapping): Thank you.
BOB SCHIEFFER: If the country is going bankrupt, if the country needs to borrow forty cents of
every dollar that it spends, how do you help that by reducing the amount of taxes that the richest people in the country pay? It would be seem to be that's where you get revenue. How do-- how do you-- how do you justify?
REPRESENTATIVE PAUL RYAN: Two things. Two things, number one, we don't have a tax
problem. Our revenuers are going back to where they have been historically. We have a big
spending problem. Spending is growing at a very unsustainable rate. So let's focus on
spending. The other thing I would simply say is massive tax increases. The President's
proposing 1.5 trillion in tax increases. The Democrats in Congress are proposing anywhere from
two to sixteen trillion dollars in tax increases based on the three budgets they brought to the
floor the other day. We don't want to slow down the economy. Here's the-- here's what we're
trying to get, spending cuts and controls to get spending under control because that's the
problem and economic growth and job creation. We don't want to give up one to get the other. Raising tax rates on anybody, especially successful small businesses slows down the economy, loses jobs and if you have lower economic growth, you have less revenues and it puts you further behind. We want more tax revenues but we want to get it by expanding job creation, by expanding economic growth so the secret to success here is economic growth and job creation through tax reform, not tax cuts, tax reform at the same levels get better economic growth which we get more revenues and also focus on the problem. The problem is spending. The problem is how much we've been spending and how we spend and we have to reform those. And that's what we really want to be focusing on here.
BOB SCHIEFFER: Let-- let-- let me go back to the debt ceiling and-- and that question which we
talked about at-- at the very top here. You're saying that they're going to have to be some
spending cuts, agreed to.
REPRESENTATIVE PAUL RYAN (overlapping): That's right. And control.
BOB SCHIEFFER: And controls before Republicans will be willing to vote to raise the debt limit.
Tell me specifically what those-- what those conditions would be? What do you want before
you're willing to do that?
REPRESENTATIVE PAUL RYAN: Well, we don't really see this as before. We see this in
conjunction with. So we're not really interested in negotiating through the media. There are
many different ways of putting caps on spending. The budget we propose has three different
kinds of caps on spending, caps on what we call discretionary spending and law, those have
worked. Republicans turned them off in the 1990s. They were successful. We should go back
down that path again. Global caps on total government spending. There's deficit caps, a debt
caps, there's lots of different ways of controlling spending. And we also think we need to lock in the gains that were achieved in the continuing resolution and get some spending cuts there and carry those savings on into the future.
REPRESENTATIVE PAUL RYAN: So we can actually save money.
BOB SCHIEFFER (overlapping): All right.
REPRESENTATIVE PAUL RYAN: So what we're saying here is spending cuts and controls in
conjunction with raising the debt limit.
BOB SCHIEFFER (overlapping): All right.
REPRESENTATIVE PAUL RYAN: That's what we've been saying all along.
BOB SCHIEFFER: All right. Well, let me just ask you this then, if you do not get those
agreements, Mister Geithner said this morning, he thought May 16th would be the time when--
when we run out and we'll have to do this or start defaulting on the T-bills. What, if you don't get the agreement you're talking about, let's say, before May 16th, then what do you do?
REPRESENTATIVE PAUL RYAN: Well, he's also said it's beyond May 16th. I don't think May
16th is a hard deadline.
BOB SCHIEFFER (overlapping): Well that's the--
REPRESENTATIVE PAUL RYAN (overlapping): And we still don't even know what the--
BOB SCHIEFFER (overlapping): --that's the date he was talking about this morning.
REPRESENTATIVE PAUL RYAN: He-- there are things Treasury can do to-- to get more time,
but I sort of reject the premise of the question which is we should just ignore the spending
problem and just keep raising debt. Look, we shouldn't ignore the spending problem. It is why
we have this debt problem in the first place. So we need to work together to get spending undercontrol while we deal with this debt. The reason the debt ceiling is being hit is because spending has been going on unchecked in the past. We want to make sure that we deal with this in the future. And so, I don't accept the premise that we just can't get spending under control around Washington.
BOB SCHIEFFER (overlapping): Okay.
REPRESENTATIVE PAUL RYAN (overlapping): That's true and we're going to have a debt
BOB SCHIEFFER (overlapping): What do you accept-- do you accept this that you won't answer
the question about what you're going to do if you don't get those agreements before May the
16th, you won't say whether--
REPRESENTATIVE PAUL RYAN (overlapping): Well, I don't--
BOB SCHIEFFER (overlapping): --or not you're going to vote on a bill just to raise the debt limit.
REPRESENTATIVE PAUL RYAN: No. I-- I-- we will. I do not-- no, we won't raise to. It's just
simply raise the debt limit. We will vote to have spending cuts and controls in conjunction with
the debt limit increase. I don't see May 16th as a hard-fast deadline. I think, Tim Geithner will
probably agree with that. He and I talk about this. But the key is, we shouldn't just accept the
premise that we--
REPRESENTATIVE PAUL RYAN: --just have to rubber stamp a debt increase without any
spending controls. I just don't agree with that and I think a lot of Democrats agree with me on
BOB SCHIEFFER: All right. Well, Congressman, thank you so much for being with us this
morning. We hope you'll come back--
REPRESENTATIVE PAUL RYAN (overlapping): Thank you, Bob.
BOB SCHIEFFER: --to see us.


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