Holding out little hope of compromise, House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan predicted Saturday that the nation will face “tepid growth and deficits” under President Barack Obama and Republicans must prudently “buy time” and “keep the bond markets at bay — for the sake of our people.”
The Wisconsin Republican and 2012 vice presidential candidate made his remarks before the National Review Institute in a speech titled “The Principle of Prudence and the Conservative Renewal.” But most striking was the grim tone and almost total absence of any confidence that progress can be made between the two political parties in the budget process this year.
Instead Ryan portrayed more of a long waiting game: “If they won’t help fix our entitlements, then we have to buy time,” he said. “We have to keep the bond markets at bay — for the sake of our people.”
Later he returned to the same point. “The horizon before us might seem narrow. But believe me: It’s going to grow,” he promised his conservative audience. “As the president implements his agenda, the results will fall far short of the rhetoric. And they won’t be pretty. We will have tepid growth and deficits — health-care price controls and rationing.”
Ryan was most scathing toward Obama. But as a major player in the budget debate taking shape in the new Congress, the chairman also took a more pessimistic view than Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) had this week.
Boehner and Ryan have been most insistent that the Senate act on a budget resolution this year — even orchestrating a House vote this week to withhold senators’ pay if the chamber fails to act. Ryan appeared to up the ante further by saying Saturday that the House won’t act on another debt increase until the Senate produces a budget.
In any case, the incoming Senate Budget Committee Chairwoman Patty Murray (D-Wash.) promised Wednesday to comply, and Boehner took some heart from this.
“If both chambers have a budget … now you have competing visions for how we address the problem,” Boehner told reporters. “Out of those competing visions we’re going to find some common ground.”
Nothing so hopeful was expressed by Ryan, who has upped the stakes by proposing that the House cut spending enough to wipe out deficits after 10 years — a tall order.
“This session, I’ll advance reforms to protect and strengthen Medicare and Medicaid,” Ryan said Saturday. “Dave Camp, chairman of the Ways and Means Committee, will advance a tax-reform effort. And we will propose a budget that will balance and pay down the debt.
“Unfortunately, the Democrats are unlikely to accept our proposals. They refuse to consider real reform. But we will lay the groundwork for future endeavors. So when reform is possible, we will be ready.
“The president will bait us. He’ll portray us as cruel and unyielding,” Ryan said. “Look, it’s the same trick he plays every time: Fight a straw man. Avoid honest debate. Win the argument by default.
“The way he tells it, it’s the president — and only the president — who’s trying to fix our bridges, to feed our children, to care for seniors, to clean our water,” Ryan added. “But we can’t get rattled. We won’t play the villain in his morality plays. We have to stay united. We have to show that — if given the chance — we can govern. We have better ideas.”