Ryan Downplays Prospects for ‘Super’ Committee

by Andrew Stiles

House Budget Committee chairman Paul Ryan (R., Wis.), who many believe is a shoo-in to be appointed to the so-called “super committee” tasked with finding additional savings under the recent debt-ceiling bill, said he thinks people are over-hyping what the committee will be able to accomplish. “I would put this committee in perspective,” Ryan said on Fox News Sunday. “I wouldn’t call it ‘super.’”

“I want to make sure people understand that I don’t think this is going to be a committee that’s going to fix all of our fiscal problems,” he continued. “I hope this is a committee that’s going get another single or double, get a [another] downpayment on our problems.”

Ryan downplayed the possibility of a “grand bargain” along the lines of the Gang of Six proposal, predicting that the best lawmakers could hope for was a “decent downpayment.” The only way to get real change in Washington, he argued, was to have a change of leadership in 2012. “Democrats have never wanted to put their health care bill on the table. They haven’t put a plan out. We haven’t seen a budget passed in the Senate in two years, the president hasn’t put out a specific plan to fix this problem and they don’t even want to go [for] structural entitlement reform, which you have to do to fix this problem.”

Ryan, who said he would serve on the committee if asked by House Speaker John Boehner (R., Ohio), pointed out that the $1.2 trillion to $1.5 trillion that the new committee will have to come up with is just a fraction of the $5.8 trillion in savings outlined in the budget passed by the House earlier this year. “We obviously have shown plenty of ways of arriving at this kind of number,” he said. “We just have to find out whether our friends on the other side of the aisle can get to that number. If we do, then we have another good downpayment on debt reduction.”

Boehner and other congressional leaders have until August 16 to announce their three appointees to the 12-member panel.

Asked about the recent decision by S&P to downgrade the United States’ credit rating, Ryan said he was not surprised. “We more or less saw this coming, because we’re on the wrong fiscal path,” he said, claiming it reinforces the GOP’s push to get spending under control. “Washington has not gotten its fiscal house in order. This is more vindication of our actions. We passed a budget, which according to someone from S&P yesterday, would have prevent this downgrade from happening in the first place.”

Host Chris Wallace pointed out that the S&P report cited political dysfunction in Washington, specifically the failure to compromise, as a reason for their decision, and asked if Republican intransigence could be to blame. “This is not a Republican or Democrat only problem. Both parties got us to where we are,” Ryan responded. “I would argue though that over the last couple of years we’ve gone deeper in the wrong direction…[and] we wouldn’t even talking about these savings, these spending cuts, had we not taken the majority.”

The real problem, he argued, was the Democrats’ complete unwillingness to consider major reforms to the area of the budget that is the primary driver of our debt problem — entitlement spending — or to reconsider their budget-busting health care law. “We haven’t been able to get the kind of compromise [we need] because our partners on the other side of the aisle have been unwilling to reform the programs that are the cause of our future problem — the reason for this downgrade,” he said. “[We need] real entitlement reform that shows the world and the country we’re getting our debt under control, [which] will help take pressure off future tax increases and interest rate increases and will help the economy today.”

As always, Wallace was obliged to ask the 2012 question. Unfortunately, but not surprisingly, the answer is “still no.”

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