House Budget Committee chairman Paul Ryan (R., Wis.) pushed back against the White House charge that House Republicans have “done absolutely nothing” to help the economy.
“I suppose that’s good politics, but it’s not factually accurate,” he told NBC’s David Gregory on Meet the Press. “We have passed over a dozen pieces of legislation, jobs legislation, that are sitting over in the senate. We passed a budget to pay off the debt and get the economy growing. We passed energy reform, we passed regulatory reform, small business tax relief. We’ve passed so many different jobs bills this year that are sitting over in the Senate.”
Ryan said these are measures that have been proven to work, unlike what the president has proposed in his jobs bill, which amounts to short-term stimulus and “sugar-high economics.”
“The idea that we can borrow and spend more in Washington to create more demand and economic growth has already been proven to fail,” he said. “We’ve done trillions of dollars of stimulus spending already, from both [Bush and Obama] administrations. It hasn’t worked.”
Instead of working with Republicans to find common ground, Ryan argued, the president is “embracing conflict…running around the country campaigning on a bill that his knows won’t pass.”
And, unfortunately, Obama has been engaging in blatant class warfare with the tax policies he has proposed targeting “the wealthy.”
“This rhetoric is divisive, it’s troubling,” Ryan said. “Sowing class envy and social unrest is not what we do in America. I think the president is doing that. He’s preying on the emotions of fear, envy and anger. That is not constructive to unifying America.”
Not only that, but it’s an ineffective way to address the deficit problem.
“The math just doesn’t work. Raising all these taxes on small businesses doesn’t work. It’s not just taxing the movie star, the baseball player, the Wall Street person, you’re taxing the engine of economic growth — small businesses. If you took all of the income from every millionaire in America today, it would run the government for about four months.”
Ryan argued that these proposed tax increases have created uncertainty among small businesses, making them reluctant to hire in an already sluggish economy. “They have no idea how much higher their taxes are going to go in 15 months,” he said. “We have a slew of new regulations coming out of Washington that’s making it really hard for them to create jobs. I would say policy certainty from Washington…is really what is necessary to create jobs.”
Instead of “job-killing tax increases,” Ryan said, the federal government should stop “subsidizing wealthy people” through the tax code and spending on entitlement programs. “Let’s go after the crony capitalism and corporate welfare in the tax code, in spending, and why don’t we income-adjust our spending programs so we don’t subsidize wealthy people as much?” Ryan said. “I think that’s a better idea to get more savings in the budget, get our debt down without doing economic damage.”
When Gregory asked if Republicans were vulnerable to the charge that they are “just looking out for the rich,” Ryan said people are certainly free to make that charge, but they’re missing the point.
“I don’t worry about people who are already rich,” he said. “I’m worried about getting people to become successful, removing those barriers so that people who have never seen success before can actually become successful…This redistribution idea, of pitting people against each other, does not work, it’s divisive, and it hardly gives us the kind of attitude we want for businesses to take risks so they can succeed in the future.”
Ryan also weighed in briefly on the Occupy Wall Street protests: “Look, I don’t disparage anybody who protests their government, for better government, no matter what perspective they come from.”