Despite predictable outcries against a plan advertised as a $5.3-trillion cut in federal spending over the next 10 years, House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis., photo) says voters are ready to embrace the kind of cuts he has outlined in his proposed budget. Appearing on the "Morning Joe" show on MSNBC shortly before the release of his spending plan Tuesday, Ryan acknowledged he had been advised by some of his Republican colleagues not to propose deep spending cuts, especially to Medicare, in an election year. But, the budget chairman argued, the mounting national debt and growing concerns about its effect on the nation's economy have changed the public's attitude toward spending cuts.
"I believe that's not the politically risky thing anymore," Ryan said. "We're borrowing 40 cents on every dollar. And the President gave us a budget that just makes it worse. I think the wrong thing, just from a political standpoint, is ducking this issue, ducking responsibility and failing to fix this crisis."
Ryan's budget does include changes to Medicare, but they are designed to slow the growth, rather than cut the program, by providing an alternative he calls "guaranteed health options" for younger Americans. He proposes cuts in a wide variety of entitlement discretionary spending programs.
"We're saying we've got to cut $5.3 trillion right now to pre-empt the crisis and make sure that seniors don't get cut in the middle of retirement," Ryan stated. "If you don't do that, then everybody will get hurt, and it will get ugly." Asked how he thought the public will respond to his proposals, Ryan replied, "I think people are ready to be talked to like adults and not pandered to like children."
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