Paul Ryan discusses the sequester, immigration reform, and the need for Senate Democrats to advance a budget
The Full Transcript of Paul Ryan on ABC's This Week Sunday:
Jon Karl: And now, in a This Week exclusive,
Congressman Paul Ryan joins us from Janesville, Wisconsin. Congressman Ryan
thanks for coming to the show.
Congressman Paul Ryan: Good morning Jonathan.
Jon Karl: I want to get right to this dust up over
immigration and Marco Rubio’s comments. Just last week, you said the President
deserved credit for not politicizing the immigration issue, you thought this
was a good sign. Do you still believe this?
Congressman Paul Ryan: Actually I don’t, and I really
don’t enjoy saying this. I did think his words were measured and productive in
the State of the Union but leaking this out does set things in the wrong
direction. Look, the question that we always have to ask ourselves, particularly
with this White House, is the President looking for a partisan advantage or is
he looking for a bipartisan law? And by putting these details out without a
guest worker program, without addressing future flow, by giving advantages to
those who cut in front of line of immigrants who came here legally, not dealing
with border security adequately, that tells us he’s looking for a partisan
advantage, and not a bipartisan solution. There are groups in the House and the
Senate working together to get this done and when he does things like this, it
makes it much more difficult to do that. That’s why I think this particular
move is very counterproductive.
Jon Karl: Let’s just be clear, you have said you would
support an immigration bill that included a pathway to citizenship correct?
Congressman Paul Ryan: Yes, absolutely because we think
there is a way to do this through earned legalization without rewarding people
who have come in with undocumented status, illegally. We don’t want to give
them an advantage over those who came here legally and we think that there’s a
way to do this while still respecting the rule of law. It’s clear that what the
President is talking about does not do that. I have a long record of
immigration reform, I’m not a Johnny-come-lately on this issue. We’ve always
believed there’s a way to do this while respecting the rule of law and that’s
the delicate balance that needs to be achieved for this to be bipartisan. And
the President, on most of these issues, and this one now like the others, seems
to be looking for a partisan advantage and not bringing the parties together.
Jon Karl: Let’s get to the biggest other issue right now which
is these automatic spending cuts. You’ve been pretty clear, you’ve predicted
now for some time, you think the so called sequester is going to happen. Let me
ask you this, Congress is now on recess for ten days, the President is playing
golf in Florida this weekend, is there really any effort underway to try and
avert these cuts right now? Are you even trying?
Congressman Paul Ryan: There have been from House
Republicans. Let’s take a step back. Don’t forget, it’s the President who
proposed the sequester, it’s the President who designed the sequester. It’s the
House Republicans who twice passed legislation replacing the sequester with
smarter cuts in other areas of government. The Senate hasn’t passed a bill to
replace the sequester. The President gave a speech showing that he’d like to
replace it but he hasn’t but any details out there, so that is why I conclude
that I believe that it’s to place. Take a step back, we’re here because the
President, back in the last session of Congress, refused to cut spending in any
place and therefore, we wound up with the sequester.
Jon Karl: But Congressman, I’ve heard you say this. This has
been a talking point for Republicans for a long time - that it was the
President’s idea, on and on and on. But let’s look at your own words; what you
said after the law was passed, exactly what you said, these are your words. You
said: "What conservatives like me have been fighting for, for years are
statutory caps on spending, legal caps in law that says government agencies cannot
spend over a set amount of money. And if they breach that amount across the
board, sequester comes in to cut that spending and you can’t turn that off
without a supermajority vote. We got that in law. That is here." Now it sounds
to me, there that if you weren’t taking credit for the idea of the sequester,
you were certainly suggesting it was a good idea?
Congressman Paul Ryan: Those are the budget caps on
discretionary spending, those occurred. We want those. Everybody wants budget
caps. The sequester that we’re talking about now was backing up the Super
Committee. Remember, the Super Committee, in addition to those caps, was
supposed to come up with $1.2 trillion in savings and the Republicans on the
Super Committee offered even higher revenues in exchange for spending cuts as
part of that, It was rejected by the President and the Democrats so no
resolution occurred and so therefore, the sequester is occurring. What we’ve
always said is let’s cut spending in smarter ways to replace the sequester. We
passed two bills doing that and we’ve heard nothing in response from Senate
Democrats and the President. They haven’t passed anything. The point I’m trying
to say, when you have no budget passing the Senate for four years, when the
President is going to be late proposing his budget, there’s no leadership on
the other side of the aisle and therefore no agreement.
Jon Karl: First of all, House Republicans have not acted in
this Congress. What you did in the last Congress, those bills are dead.
Congressman Paul Ryan: In December we passed it again,
Jon Karl: Now we have Senate Democrats on Friday coming out
with a plan to replace these cuts, it’s half spending cuts and half tax revenue
increases. What do you make of that Democratic plan?
Congressman Paul Ryan: Well, first of all, I’d be curious
to see if they could pass that, number one. Number two, the President got his
tax increases last year. He got those higher revenues. He was able to tax
higher income individuals. But taking tax loopholes, which we’ve always
advocated are necessary for tax reform, means you’re going to close loopholes
to fuel more spending, not to reform the tax code. What is the goal we’re
trying to achieve here? We want economic growth, we want job creation, we want
people to get back to work, we want to prevent a debt crisis from hurting those
who are most vulnerable in society, in order to do that, you’ve got to get the
deficit and debt under control so if you take tax loopholes to fuel more
spending, which is what they are proposing, then you are preventing tax reform
which we think is necessary to end crony capitalism and to grow the economy.
That’s why we think you need to cut spending to pay for this.
Jon Karl: Your bottom line is?
Congressman Paul Ryan: Yes, our bottom line is cut
spending to pay for this.
Jon Karl: And you’re saying no tax increases, period, to pay
Congressman Paul Ryan: Yes, that’s right because
revenues, loopholes are necessary for tax reform. If you take them for spending,
you’re blocking tax reform and you’re really not getting the deficit under
Jon Karl: OK, now, the next big thing here is you -- the
speaker has said you were going to come out with a balanced budget that's going
to balance the budget in ten years. Your last budget didn't balance until well
after 2030. So this is a big, new step. Some in your own party are a little
worried about this. Mike Simpson, Republican congressman from Idaho said
"we are saying a ten-year balance. That's tougher than the last Ryan
budget. There could be a significant number of Republicans that say, I'm not going
there because it would be too dramatic. How are you going to balance the budget
in ten years? What further things are you going to cut that you didn't last
Congressman Paul Ryan: Well, we'll show you when we
finish writing the budget. We haven't literally finished writing it. We've just
begun because we just now got our baseline so I can't answer the question since
it's not a complete task. But I'm very comfortable with the fact that we will
pass this. I'm very comfortable with the fact that we will produce a budget
that balances. Our last budget balanced, it just balanced a little later. This
one will balance on time because we have new numbers to work with from the
Congressional Budget Office that I think will make it easier for us to balance.
And look, the point also is this- we're producing a
budget. We're going to be passing a budget. The Senate hasn't passed a budget
for four years. The president has never proposed ever to ever balance the
budget. That's wrong. The reason we want to do this is not simply to make
numbers add up, we want to prevent a debt crisis, we want to grow the economy,
we want to get people back to work in society and if we have a debt crisis,
that is bad for our economy today and let's never forget we're robbing from future
generations. We've got to address that.
Jon Karl: We're almost out of time. I've got to ask you
about this new effort from Karl Rove to weed out what he's calling problem
candidates and Republican primaries. One conservative talk radio host said of
this effort "we are now at the point where you are almost better off in
the Republican Party being endorsed by Barack Obama than Karl Rove. He is the
reverse Midas." Now I might note, by the way, that Karl Rove has recently
called you one of the most remarkable political talents in America. But putting
that aside, do you think this is a good thing or a bad thing to have a, you
know, big Washington power broker trying to get in there and meddle in
Congressman Paul Ryan: You know what, Jonathan, I don't
even pay attention to this stuff. I'm too busy trying to do my job. I'm too
busy trying to put a budget together a budget that balances, to grow the
economy, to create opportunity, to get bipartisan immigration reform. I really
don't pay attention to this. So I have no thoughts on the matter whatsoever.
Jon Karl: No thoughts whatsoever. OK, before you go you know
I have to ask you about your future. There was an article in Politico by my
friends Mike Allen and Jim Vandehei about your political future saying you are
less inclined to run for president. And this quote caught my eye "Paul
will never say he's not running for president because the constant speculation
carries too many advantages, said a longtime friend. He will keep answering the
questions in a way that will keep nosy political reporters interested."
Now, congressman at risk of being a nosy political reporter here, is it true,
are you considerably less likely now to run for president in 2016?
Congressman Paul Ryan: Actually, Jonathan, you've known
me a long time and the one thing you know about me is I don't play that game. I
don't talk like that. So when you see these articles that are really not
accurate, that's par for the course in Washington these days. The point is this;
I think the most important thing for me to do is do my job representing the
first district of Wisconsin, trying to prevent a debt crisis, helping get a
solution to the economy, to jobs, to getting our deficit and debt under
control. That to me is my first priority. That's what I'm focused on. Will I or
won't I? I don't know. I literally do not know the answer to these questions
about what is the best role for me to play to fix these problems for our
country in the future. The point is I don't know the answer because I'm just
not putting a great deal of thought into it. I'm not foreclosing any
opportunity. I may or a I may not. I just don't know because right now we just
had an election. We've got jobs to do. What bothers me is this permanent
campaign the president has us in. We need to start thinking about doing our
jobs after these elections than thinking about the next election. That's the
problem we have in Washington.
Jon Karl: Unfortunately we're out of time but I'm going to
take that as a definite maybe. Thank you very much, Congressman Paul Ryan.