Yesterday on Fox News Sunday, Paul Ryan responded to Standard & Poor’s downgrading of America’s long-term debt by explaining to host Chris Wallace that Republicans in the House “passed a budget, which according to somebody from S&P yesterday, would have prevented this downgrade from happening in the first place.” America’s credit rating was downgraded to AA+ Friday night from AAA, the highest rating given out by the New York-based agency.
Ryan, chairman of the House Budget Committee, went on to explain how his budget plan deals with the long-term entitlement problem, which S&P refers to in its downgrade report. “We passed a budget that would make debt peak in two years at 74.5 percent GDP and it goes steadily down from thereon after,” Ryan said. “So, we put out a plan, very specific plan to address the situation, pay off the debt, balance the budget, reform the tax code to create jobs in the economy. You got to have two things, spending cuts and debt reduction, along with economic growth and job creation.”
The Ryan budget, after passing in the House, failed to gain the Senate’s approval. Even so, it’s almost certain the president would not have signed the bill.
Ryan’s criticism of the president was sharp and pointed. “I would argue though that over the last couple years, we're going deeply in the wrong direction,” Ryan said. The problem is in “our entitlements. And, unfortunately, our partners on the other side of the aisle, the president and the Senate, have always been unwilling to put a specific plan out there to address entitlements, specifically health care entitlements. The president just created two health care entitlements, expanded Medicaid a third and then put this new rationing board in charge of Medicare. And so, they are unwilling to open up and restructure these entitlements which according to S&P are the primary drivers of this debt.”
As Nicole Gelinas writes in today’s New York Post, “Politicians have ignored this mess for three years now, because they fear the sharp short-term pain of confronting it. But getting past that pain is the only way to a real recovery; putting it off just adds to the eventual price (in pain and in cash).”
But Ryan’s sharp remarks were directed at bipartisan targets. “This is not a Republican or Democrat only problem…both parties got us to where we are.”