“We use all these Washington words, sequester, fiscal cliff, debt limit, sequestration, continuing resolution,” Ryan said during a press conference on Wednesday outside the U.S. Capitol. “It’s all Washington words to describe the dysfunction of this town.”
Ryan appeared with Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.) following the first “millennial meet up,” a roundtable discussion with members of Congress and young people on how to solve the national debt, which currently stands at over $16.6 trillion.
“The greatest dysfunction of all is the fact that these young people standing here are facing a diminished future no matter how you slice it,” Ryan said.
“This isn’t a Republican issue. It’s not a Democrat issue. It’s a math issue,” he said. “We know without a shred of doubt we are giving the next generation a lower standard of living because of this debt.”
McMorris Rodgers, the House Republican conference chair, organized the meeting with The Can Kicks Back, a self-described non-partisan, Millennial-driven campaign to fix the national debt.
“They told us that they’re excited about getting involved in solving the various challenges that face us,” McMorris Rodgers said. “But whether it’s education, health care, transportation, immigration, the debt makes it difficult—if not impossible—to move forward on any of those issues.”
“I am the can that Washington keeps kicking down the road,” said Nick Trioano, co-founder of The Can Kicks Back. “It’s our hopes, our dreams and our futures that are imperiled by continued gridlock in Washington.”
Ryan said he is hopeful because young people are getting involved to address the issue.
“What is great is we have young people here who are getting engaged,” he said. “We have young people who are coming to the Capitol to say, ‘Give me my future back and stop taking it away from me.’”
“Because that’s what the dysfunction of this town is continuing to do,” Ryan said. “We’re not going to stand for that. We’re going to tackle this problem before it tackles us.”
Automatic, across-the-board cuts to defense and non-defense spending—known as the sequester—are set to go into effect on Friday, after lawmakers failed to reach an agreement on a minimum of $1.2 trillion in spending reductions from the Budget Control Act of 2011.
The reductions -- 1.2 percent of the budget and equal to $44 billion for 2013 -- were to take effect on Jan. 2, 2013, but Congress postponed the sequester until March 1 in the deal to avert the fiscal cliff in January.