Ryan on His Deal: 'This Isn't The Greatest Agreement of All Time'

By Susan Jones | December 11, 2013 | 5:35 AM EST

House Budget Committee Chairman Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., and Senate Budget Committee Chair Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., on Capitol Hill. (AP Photo/ Scott Applewhite, File)

(CNSNews.com) - Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) used the phrase "step in the right direction" several times Tuesday night in describing the budget agreement he reached with Democratic Sen. Patty Murray (Wash.).

"This isn't the greatest agreement of all time. We have a long ways to go to get this deficit under control. This is a step in the right direction," Ryan told Fox News's Greta Van Susteren.

Ryan said the proposed budget "cuts the deficit without raising taxes by cutting spending in smarter ways than the across-the-board approach. All of our members were worried about all the defense cuts. We are stopping the military from getting (cut) further, and we are cutting spending in smarter ways on auto-pilot programs that have been untouched for years by Congress. And we're doing it in a way to make sure that there is no tax increase, and that we actually lower the deficit, versus doing nothing."

Ryan said deficit reduction will come from spending cuts "in areas that we have never been able to get before." For example, the deal would have public employees pay "a little bit more" for their pensions.

Ryan said additional revenues will come from opening up "a little bit of the Gulf of Mexico" for oil and gas drilling. And, he added, "We are saying that deadbeat dads who don't pay for their kids' Medicaid payments need to pay for them. Making sure we don't send prisoners checks from the IRS in prison that they shouldn't be getting." He said the deal is intended to curb fraud ("ripping off dead people's identities") as well as "corporate welfare" abuses.

It also requires Americans to pay new fees: According to the Associated Press, the deal would raise the Transportation Security Administration fee on a typical nonstop, round-trip airline ticket from $5 to $10; require newly hired federal workers to contribute 1.3 percentage points more of their salaries toward their pensions; and trim cost-of-living adjustments to the pensions of military retirees under the age of 62. Hospitals and other health care providers would have to absorb two additional years of a 2-percentage-point cut in their Medicare reimbursements.

The budget deal doesn't touch taxes or entitlements, nor does it extend unemployment benefits, a key Democratic demand.

"I wanted to means test Medicare benefits. I wanted to have higher income seniors to pay more of their premiums for Medicare. They (Democrats) would not agree to that."

Ryan said the deal will prevent government shutdowns in January and again next October, right before the midterm election: "And we think government shutdowns are not in our interest. I think some people would like to see the political distraction of a government shutdown. We would like to focus on doing oversight of the executive branch, oversight on Obamacare and oversight on the IRS and not focus on government shutdowns."

Ryan admitted that some Republicans will not approve the deal, "for various reasons."

One of them is Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) who said the Ryan-Murray deal "continues Washington’s irresponsible budgeting decisions by spending more money than the government takes in and placing additional financial burdens on everyday Americans."

Rubio also complained that the budget cancels certain spending reductions, rather than making "tough decisions about how to tackle our long-term fiscal challenges caused by runaway Washington spending."

Ryan said his own budget plan would have balanced the budget in ten years and paid off the debt, but "I can't get that, so I want to get this."

"For me, I'm cutting the deficit without raising taxes, and I'm getting permanent spending cuts from an area of spending that we haven't been able to touch for years. I think that's a good step in the right direction."