Budget Chairman Paul Ryan: 'I Think the Sequester Is Going to Happen'

January 28, 2013 - 8:39 AM

Paul Ryan

Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) (AP Photo)

(CNSNews.com) - House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan (R.-Wis.) says if he and Mitt Romney had won the election, the deep, forced spending cuts known as sequestration would not happen because he and Romney would have worked with Democrats to arrive at a deficit-reduction deal.

But now?

"I think the sequester is going to happen," Ryan told NBC's "Meet the Press" on Sunday. He said the nation can't afford to lose the automatic $1.2 trillion in spending cuts through 2021. Those cuts, he said, were intended to pay for the 2011 debt ceiling increase, never mind the one now looming.

Under recently passed legislation, Congress has until March 1 to agree on deficit reduction, and if it doesn't, the Defense Department will be forced to cut $55 billion every year through 2021, and the same amount ($55 billion) automatically would be cut in non-defense spending.

"Don't forget one other thing," Ryan said. "We passed legislation -- I wrote it and passed it in the House twice to replace those sequesters with cuts in other areas of government. So we've shown precisely how we should protect defense spending by cutting spending in other areas. And, by the way, in our budget last year, we did take money out of Defense, just not nearly as much as the president seems to want to.

"We think these sequesters will happen because the Democrats have opposed our efforts to replace those with others, and they've offered no alternatives."

Democrats and President Obama insist that any deficit reduction must include higher taxes.

Been there, done that, Ryan said on Sunday:

"[L]et's not forget, he (President Obama) had $1 trillion in tax increases with Obamacare. Then he just got new tax increases at the beginning of this month, and now they're calling for even more tax increases, and they're not calling to cut spending, they're actually calling for spending increases. So, basically, what they're saying is they want Americans to pay more so Washington can spend more.

"That's not going to help the economy, and that is not going to close the gap and balance the budget. The reason we want to balance the budget is not just to make numbers add up. We think that's necessary for growth. We think that's necessary for opportunity. We think that's necessary to make sure that our kids don't get this debt that they won't be able to handle if we keep going on the path we are on.

"The point is, though, the president got his additional revenues. So that's behind us. Those higher revenues occurred, and now we need to focus on getting spending --
Are we for more revenues? No, we're not."

Ryan said Republicans are not interested in shutting down the government on March 27, when the continuing resolution -- a stop-gap measure to keep the money flowing -- expires.

"We are more than happy to keep spending at those levels going on into the future while we debate how to balance the budget; how to grow the economy; how to create economic opportunity," Ryan said. "That's the kind of debate the country deserves, because -- by the way, if we keep going down this path, we will have a debt crisis. It's not an if question, it's a when question. This isn't a Republican or a Democrat thing, it's a math thing, and we have to get serious with this problem if we want to save people from the problems that inevitably result from a debt crisis."

The debt ceiling is the legal limit on how much public debt the U.S. Treasury may have outstanding at any one time. It sets a limit on how much the federal government may borrow to finance the cost of spending that has already been approved by Congress. It is not a limit on how much Congress can spend in the future.