Paul Ryan previews GOP budget proposal for next year - says his budget will cut $4 trillion over next decade

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Talking tough on Medicare and especially Social Security is always risky for politicians, since Democrats traditionally have made political hay out of it.  Wallace asked Ryan if he was giving Democrats a political weapon. Ryan said essentially, yes.

WALLACE: Last question, as you look ahead, and a lot of people would say look, the answer is you're not going to get this budget passed. It's really setting up an issue and -- and a sensible debate for 2012.

As you look ahead to the next election, aren't Democrats going to be able to say, look at Paul Ryan, look at the House Republicans. They want to kill Medicare, they want to kill Medicaid, they want to gut the programs that you depend on. Aren't you playing into the Democrats' hands?

RYAN: We are. We are giving them a political weapon to go against us, but they will have to lie and demagogue to make that a political weapon.

Look, we don't change benefits for anybody over the age of 55. We save Medicare, save Medicaid. We save these entitlement programs. We repair our social safety net, and we get our country a debt-free country for our children and grandchildren's generation. And we get jobs. We get economic growth.

They are going to demagogue us, and -- and it's that demagoguery that has always prevented political leaders in the past from actually trying to fix the problem. We can't keep kicking this can down the road.

The president has punted. We're not going to follow suit. And, yes, we will be giving our political adversaries things to use against us in the next election, and shame on them if they do that.

Meanwhile, there's that little thing about the federal government running out of funds for some programs by this Friday, April 8, with the Congress having to pass "Continuing Resolutions" to keep it afloat.  But what will happen by the end of this week? Let's check in first with Harry Reid, reviled across the country by conservatives, who is always good for a quote or two that is completely honest and thus liable to make conservatives freak out.

On CBS' Face The Nation, when asked the critical question of what he thought the chances are of a goverrnment shutdown, he touted the party line that serious Republicans should look at more than just the tea party when thinking about if what they're doing is right or even popular. Reid said he liked Bob Schieffer's comment that House Speaker John Boehner was fearful of the tea party.

SENATOR HARRY REID: The Republican leadership in the House has tomake a decision whether they’re going to do the right thing for the country or do the right thing for the Tea Party. The Tea Party, you see, they spent weeks organizing here. And they--the day came for their demonstration a couple days ago. They didn’t have thousands of people there. They didn’t have hundreds of people. They had tens of people. If you really stretch it, you might have had a hundred and fifty people there. The Tea Party is not looked at very strongly around the country. The only attention they get is in the House of Representatives. And they shouldn’t be getting that attention.

BOB SCHIEFFER: Well, what I mean are you saying that Speaker Boehner and the

Republicans who have been here a while are afraid of the Tea Party? Is that what’s going on here?

SENATOR HARRY REID: Now that’s a pretty good choice of words. The answer is yes. The Tea Party is dictating a lot that goes on in the Republican leadership in the House. And they shouldn’t. It shouldn’t be that way. We should--we’ve--we’ve agreed on a number. Let’s work to get that number done. Its--you know we realize that the country needs to do something about spending. And the long-term benefits to doing something about the deficit are significant. But we don’t have to reinvent the wheel.We during the Clinton years reduced the debt for four years. We paid down the debt. We know how to do this. But we don’t--we don’t do it on the backs of middle class Americans and kids.

Illinois Democratic U.S. Senator Dick Durban said on Meet The Press with David Gregory that the (Democratically controlled) Senate would never go along with some of the cuts proposed by Ryan and his House Republican friends for this year's budget.

MR. GREGORY:  All right.  Well, but people understand that.  But go behind the curtain here.  What has to give?  For instance, Democrats are pretty upset with the so-called riders in the spending cut legislation that would deny funding, say, for health care or would block the EPA from putting in certain environmental regulations, deny funding to Planned Parenthood, for an example. Would you be willing to vote for a compromise that included those, those bans on, on certain kind of spending?

SEN. DURBIN:  David, I think the House Republicans lose all credibility when they decide that this fight isn't over the deficit, it isn't over the amount of spending cuts, but rather it's to debate and relitigate political issues that have been in Washington for decades.  For goodness sakes, let's get our job done.  Let's fund the government.  There's plenty of opportunity in the House and Senate to debate every other issue.  That's what we're there for. But let's not tie up our government and close it down, to the embarrassment of both political parties, by insisting on these riders that are totally political.

MR. GREGORY:  Well, I understand your position.  But could you vote for a compromise that included those riders?

SEN. DURBIN:  I can tell you, there are some that are totally unacceptable. The idea that we are going to close down the Environmental Protection Agency's efforts to keep our air clean and our water pure, I mean, that sort of thing is irresponsible.  To close down Planned Parenthood funding--it is not for abortion, it's for family planning--that's a step way beyond what the mandate of the last election called for.

MR. GREGORY:  So no vote from Senator Durbin, no yes vote, if those are still in there.

SEN. DURBIN:  Absolutely not.

Follow the news to see what happens with a deadline coming up at the end of this week.  The D's and R's really need to come to an agreement for the end of September. Or, somebody says the deal is unacceptable, and walks away.  Members of both parties don't think it's the worst thing in the world.  We'll know soon enough.

Wisconsin Republican Congressman Paul Ryan, chairman of the House Budget Committee, has been given carte blanche by his fellow GOP House Republicans to singlehandedly propose their budget recommendations for the fiscal year 2012 that will begin this fall.

On Fox News Sunday, he said his proposal would cut $4 trillion over the next decade, and said he's ready to take on the big-ticket items: Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.  And he repeated the familiar conservative bromide that Washington doesn't have a tax problem but a spending problem, which is why he's not talking about tax increases to try to reduce the federal deficit.  And he's talking about cutting Medicare by turning it into a voucher system after 2021.

RYAN: Our reforms are along the line of what I proposed with Alice Rivlin, the Democrat from the Clinton administration in the fiscal commission, which is a premium support system. That's very different from a voucher.

Premium support is exactly the system I as a member of Congress and all federal employees have. It works like the Medicare prescription drug benefit, similar to Medicare Advantage today, which means Medicare puts a list of plans out there that compete against each other for your business, and seniors pick the plan of their choosing, and then Medicare subsidizes that plan. It doesn't go to the person, into the marketplace. It goes to the plan. More for the poor, more for people who get sick, and we don't give as much money to people who are wealthy.

Doing that saves Medicare. It doesn't apply to anybody. Those who are 55 or above keep their Medicare exactly as is it today, but the problem is the biggest driver of our debt is Medicare. It has trillions, tens of trillions of dollars of unpaid promises.

We want to keep these promises. Meaning, we want to fulfill the mission of health retirement security for future seniors, and so we will be proposing a premium support system like the Rivlin-Ryan plan, which is identical to the system I as a member of Congress and all federal employees have.

WALLACE: Obviously, I am at a disadvantage, because I haven't seen the plan, but the CBO did an analysis of the Ryan-Rivlin plan, and it said that it would — the effect of the plan would be to shift more of the burden of health care costs out of their own pockets to seniors.

RYAN: Right, so for wealthy seniors especially. It also did not say these are vouchers. These are premium support, and there's a big difference here with that. It said that we're going to protect people who are low-income. We are going to protect people as their health condition gets worse. If you get sicker, you'll have more so that you can have — your rates stabilize. No more premium increases.

The key is this. There is nobody saying that Medicare can stay in its current path. Even Obamacare acknowledges that. So we should not be measuring ourselves against some mythical future of Medicare that isn't sustainable.

Medicare itself, literally, crowds out all other government spending at the end of the day. We can't sustain that. We have got to get Medicare solvent.

Rick Foster, the chief actuary, came to the Budget Committee just the other day and said, one of the best things we can do to save Medicare, one of the best things we can do to bend that cost curve and help inflation is to go to the kind of system we are proposing.

WALLACE: Now, Medicaid — and I'd better ask because I'm only — I'm basing this on the reports, the reports are that you're going to save $1 trillion over 10 years on Medicaid. True?

RYAN: No. Those numbers are different as well. You'll see our specific numbers —

WALLACE: Block grants for the states?

RYAN: You will — we propose block grants to the states.

We've had so much testimony from so many different governors saying give us the freedom to customize our Medicaid programs, to tailor for our unique populations in our states. We want to get governors freedom to do that —

WALLACE: But critics say —

RYAN: — and we will be proposing block grants —

WALLACE: But critics say you're not reforming, that you're cutting. That's you're actually going to be cutting. By giving these block grants, you're going to be cutting health care services to the poor and the disabled.

RYAN: Let me say this one thing, Medicare and Medicaid spending will go up every single year under our budget. They don't just go up as much as they're going right now, because they're growing at unsustainable rates.

Free programs alone, Medicare, Medicaid especially, and social security, take over all government revenues by the time my children are my age. When my kids are my age, who are six, seven and nine years old, at that time when they're raising their children, three programs crowd out every other federal priority. They can't keep growing at the pace that they're growing at.

So, yes, we do increase and grow Medicare, Medicaid spending but albeit not at — at the pace they're growing at because they're completely unsustainable. And that's why we're (INAUDIBLE) them with key reforms that are proven to stretch that Medicare, Medicaid dollar farther.

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