Economic Policies for the 21st Century has posted a transcript of its event yesterday with Rep. Paul Ryan, the Republican chairman of the House Budget Committee, responding to the president's budget speech. It turns out that Mr. Ryan and a couple of other senior house Republicans actually were in the room for the president's speech, which may explain why the president didn't mention by name the members of Congress who were in attendance. Highlights from Mr. Ryan's remarks:
I forgot whose quote this was. Maybe it was Churchill. But he was basically a pyromaniac in a field of straw men....
Here's what we're basically saying. We're saying let's keep government spending basically where it has been historically as a share of our economy. For the last 40 years, we've basically taken 20 cents out of every dollar made in America to pay for the federal government. Well, this is the path we're on. This is the path the President keeps us on.
His budget exacerbates this path, and so by the time my three kids my wife and I live in Janesville. I'm 41 years old. Our kids are 6, 7 and 9 years old. By the time they're my age, the federal government is going to be double in size them compared to what is today. So instead of taking 20 cents out of every dollar made in America to pay for the federal government, my children have to take 40 cents out of every dollar. That means double the tax burden. That means a diminished future.
And the President is basically saying those people in Congress who want to keep this government size relative to where it has historically been, who want to keep it we want to keep it basically limited, are crazy. They're hurting grandparents. They're hurting children with disabilities, college education, meaning this future is un you can't get it. He's basically denying the chance, the discussion, the debate, the possibility that this future of a limited federal government is gone. And we have to agree to this normal, a government that is dramatically growing and bigger in size....
MR. BARNES: Have you talked to Vice President Biden?
REP. RYAN: No.
MR. BARNES: Are you going to join that commission or participate in it?
REP. RYAN: I have no idea.
MR. BARNES: I mean...
REP. RYAN: I just don't even know. We've had so many commissions. I've spent hours and months in the last one. Why don't we just do our jobs? I mean, why do we keep punting decisions to other people to do our jobs for us? Why don't we just do our jobs? That's what we're doing.
Look. I understand the President is hesitant and is missing in action on leading on this, on the biggest economic issue of our time, and he's choosing to delegate to successive commissions. He disinvolved the last one. Who knows what this Biden Commission will do, but why don't we just do our jobs?...
We don't want to be a food stamp nation, we want to be a paycheck nation, and so I think if you're talking about who is ending the social contract in this country, what we're trying to do here is keep the social contract, a limited government, free enterprise system, a government that lives within its means, a government that keeps its promises to the most vulnerable in our society, to the seniors in our society, but a government that continues the idea of America, the characteristics of America, like I said, equal opportunity, upward mobility, prosperity....
look, both parties are to blame for this stuff. So I don't want to say we're good, they're bad, no. Both parties are to blame....
I don't think you can intimidate and scare voters to voting for you anymore. I just don't think that stuff works anymore. I know class warfare has always proven to be effective politically and I know tapping in to people's legitimate emotions of fear, envy, and anxiety can be powerful political weapons and tools, but it makes for really bad economics, it's not aspirational, it's not hopeful. It's not inspirational, and I just fundamentally don't believe that that is politically successful at the end of the day. So I just don't think he'll succeed in that.....
what we've learned through things like Pell is every time you crank up Pell, what happens is tuition just goes up.
So we're feeding tuition increases, we're giving more money to education bureaucracies, and so the student is getting money in one pocket, only to lose it in the other pocket.
And the taxpayer is worse off....
We want a growing economy and that will get us more revenues.
So are we interested in trying to divide up the slices of an evershrinking pie? No. We are interested in growing the pie for everybody, so we have more prosperity, more job creation.
Pretty good stuff.
It's also interesting to see how bond-fund manager Bill Gross manages to drive the Washington conversation and agenda:
MS. ROSENBLATT: (Off mic.) Jennifer Rosenblatt of the Post.
REP. RYAN: Hey, Jennifer.
MS. ROSENBLATT: Hi. Thanks. Two questions, if I might.
One, I spoke last week to Bill Gross of PIMCO.
REP. RYAN: Say that oh, you talked to Bill Gross?
MS. ROSENBLATT: And he laid out a time line of one to two years for a debt crisis. Do you agree with that, and do you think the administration
REP. RYAN: I talked to Bill Gross last week. I didn't hear you. He told me two to five years. What did he tell you?
MS. ROSENBLATT: He said one to two we're going to have a problem.
REP. RYAN: Okay.
MS. ROSENBLATT: So I don't know what happened.
REP. RYAN: Oh, gosh, last week he told me two to five.
MS. ROSENBLATT: See how badly we're doing?
REP. RYAN: See what a week does.
MS. ROSENBLATT: First of all, do you share that view, whether two to five or one to two? And do you think the White House has that same sense of urgency?...
REP. RYAN...I'm the wrong guy to ask that. Bill Gross is the head of PIMCO
MR. BARNES: Yeah, I know who he is.
REP. RYAN: Yeah.
MR. BARNES: But what does he say happens in one to two years?
REP. RYAN: So, yeah, I spoke to Bill, I want to say a week ago. I speak to lot of bond market watchers, bond market economists, traders, buyers, because I'm very concerned about the bond markets.
And the way I look at this is it's like the financial crisis of 2008. That caught us by surprise. And you know, people have heard me say this before, but you know, out of that came really ugly legislation, but more importantly or more devastatingly, millions of people lost their jobs, trillions of dollars of wealth was lost and people's and seniors' nest eggs.
And that caught us by surprise. And look what happened. Well, like I said, imagine if your Congressman or your President knew that that was going to happen, why it was going to happen, when it was going to happen, and knew what to do to prevent it and had time to prevent it, but didn't, because of politics?
I mean, God. Give me a break. That's where we are right now.
And so we have all these bond traders, all these experts in the bond telling us you've got one to two years, two to five years.
In the budget committee testimony we had experts come. The range was two to three years, from them.
So what they're not disagreeing on is that a debt crisis is coming. What they're disagreeing on is in how many few years under five, meaning one to five years, it's going to occur.
Nobody knows this. I mean, I had a long conversation with Alan Greenspan about this the other day, which he doesn't think the models today can accurately predict these things.
The models did not predict the last financial crisis.
And so knowing this, that's why we have a sense of urgency. This is why we put out a plan that we knew would give our political adversaries a weapon to use against us, but we cannot worry about the next election.
We've got to keep worrying about the next generation, and about our constituents and their livelihoods. And playing politics with each other, which is what the President did yesterday, is just fundamentally irresponsible, given what we now know about this upcoming fiscal crisis.
So what Bill says is, you know, you got to produce some confidence builders to show the bond markets that the Americans aren't crazy, that the American government can do something....