Video: GOP’s Ryan: ‘Obamacare’ costs jobs

  1. Transcript of: GOP’s Ryan: ‘Obamacare’ costs jobs

    MEREDITH VIEIRA, co-host: Wisconsin Republican Congressman Paul Ryan is one of the so-called young guns of the GOP and the incoming chair of the House Budget Committee . Congressman Ryan , good morning to you.

    Representative PAUL RYAN (Republican, Wisconsin): Good morning, Meredith .

    VIEIRA: As of today Republicans control the House and as Matt just brought up, one of the key points on your agenda will be attempting to repeal the health care plan.

    Rep. RYAN: Mm-hmm.

    VIEIRA: But given the fact that you do not have the votes in the Senate , as Senator McCain just pointed out, and the president has veto power, and also given the fact that the American voters in the midterm elections made it clear that what they care about most right now are jobs and the economy , why go down this path at all? It almost feels like an act of revenge on the part of the Republican Party .

    Rep. RYAN: Well, first of all, this is related to jobs and the economy . The health care bill has massive tax increases on individuals and employers that will cost us jobs. So this -- don't think that this isn't related to jobs.

    VIEIRA: So that's why you're going after it specifically?

    Rep. RYAN: Second point is we made a pledge -- second point is we made a pledge to the American people in our Pledge to America that we would bring up and repeal this health care bill. So we're simply keeping our word to the people that we gave before the election . Thirdly , we think this health care bill is really a house of cards . When you take away all the budget gimmicks, it has about a $700 billion budget deficit . It's going to raise health care costs, it's going to involve the government in more of a job of taking over health care and I think it's going to lead to Medicare rationing. So this is not a popular health care law, the election was very clear about that.

    VIEIRA: But do you think...

    Rep. RYAN: And what are we doing today? Today we're...

    VIEIRA: But do you think, Congressman...

    Rep. RYAN: ...going to start cutting our own budgets. Today we're going to cut our budgets. We're going to focus on cutting spending and growing jobs and the economy . That is our priority. Cut spending, grow jobs and the economy , and yes, we will bring and repeal this health care bill because we think in the interest of the economy , it is important to repeal and replace this health care bill.

    VIEIRA: Let's talk about cutting spending because the Republicans , you among them, made a vow, a pledge to the American people back in the fall that you would cut spending by $100 billion this year. But The New York Times says you're already backtracking on that and all we've really heard about is trimming your own congressional budget by about $35 million, which is really a drop in the bucket. So are you reneging on that promise?

    Rep. RYAN: No, we're not reneging on it. First of all, a 5 percent cut in our budgets we don't think is a drop, we think it's an important first step. But the problem with the $100 billion point was we said we were going to bring spending down to 2008 levels. We are halfway through the fiscal year right now. So the problem is half the spending cats are already out of the bag, and that is why that number has become compromised. We're still going to bring spending down to the level that we said we would bring spending at, but the saving you achieve from doing so halfway through the fiscal year isn't as great as it was when we were talking about this a year ago.

    VIEIRA: You know, you -- Republicans made it very clear that they won't cut spending for the military, veterans or domestic security. Those are three areas where they will not cut spending.

    Rep. RYAN: Right.

    VIEIRA: Give me three areas today where you would be clearly comfortable with cutting spending, no matter how difficult it is you would be able to do it.

    Rep. RYAN: Right, so if you want to get a sense of where we're headed with this, look at where spending was in 2008 on government agencies , on discretionary domestic government agencies , and that's where we intend on going. So what we said in the pledge for America is we're going to take spending to prestimulus, prebailout levels, nonsecurity spending. You know, we do have a war on terror right now. We do have troops in Afghanistan and Iraq right now. We don't want to pull the rug out from under those operations because we want to give our troops what they need and the tools they need to be successful. But all of the spending that has occurred over there, domestic discretionary spending went up with stimulus, Meredith , by 84 percent over the last two years. The base spending, which is what moves -- what we call the baseline, went up 24 percent. So the spending spree is over as far as we're concerned here in the House .

    VIEIRA: But can you even be more specific? You say discretionary spending . Give me specifics. Where are you going to cut? You going to cut education, transportation, medical, what are you going to cut?

    Rep. RYAN: Well, that's -- that is what is going to happen in the appropriations process down the road. So I can't tell you the answer to that because as a budget committee person, we simply lower the cap and then those things go down. We're going to be reducing all domestic discretionary spending . I can't tell you by what amount and on which program, but all of it is going to be going down, and the aggregate amount will be back to 2008 levels before the spending binge occurred.

    VIEIRA: All right, Congressman Paul Ryan , thank you very much and good luck to you.

updated 1/5/2011 11:07:52 AM ET 2011-01-05T16:07:52

The incoming chairman of the House Budget Committee says Republicans are committed to a policy of "cutting spending and growing jobs" as the new Congress convenes, although he concedes he's not certain where the spending curbs will come.

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Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin tells NBC's "Today" show it's difficult to say exactly what programs will be hit because the process is only beginning.

The Republican does say that "we're going to be reducing all domestic discretionary spending. I cannot tell you by which amount or which programs."

Video: McCain looks forward to spending cuts

Ryan also says Republicans are serious about trying to repeal the Obama administration's health care overhaul, and he denies the move amounts to political posturing.

Story: GOP sending Obama message on health repeal

Ryan says the program is a massive expansion of the government and must be rolled back.

Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Explainer: The GOP's key players going into 2012

  • Republicans are taking control of the House for the first time since 2006, while in the Senate they’ve gained six seats and can block most Democratic initiatives. Here are some of the important committee chairmen and the pivotal GOP senators who will help determine the outcome of legislative struggles with the Democrats over the next two years.

  • Rep. Spencer Bachus, chair, House Financial Services Committee

    Gary Cameron  /  Reuters

    A soft-spoken Alabaman, Bachus will have a crucial role in overseeing banking, consumer protection and securities trading. His domain will include the Federal Reserve, the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, as well as troubled government-owned mortgage guarantors Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. He doesn’t have the rhetorical flash and stinging wit of his Democratic counterpart, Rep. Barney Frank, with whom he has often jousted. Bachus drew fire when he told The Birmingham News on Dec. 9 that, “In Washington, the view is that the banks are to be regulated, and my view is that Washington and the regulators are there to serve the banks.” He later amended that comment, saying that regulators should not micromanage banks, but should set ground rules for how they operate. “Bachus' staff is going to be very busy getting him to retract statements in which he reveals what he really believes about a fundamental issue before the Committee,” Frank said.

  • Sen. Scott Brown, R- Mass.

    Hyungwon Kang  /  Reuters

    Brown’s victory in the Jan. 19, 2010 special election to fill out the unexpired term of Sen. Edward Kennedy signaled that the tide was turning against President Barack Obama and his allies in Congress. No Republican had won a Senate election in Massachusetts since 1972, when Brown was only 13 years old. Brown must run for re-election in 2012 and as a Republican senator from one of the nation’s most Democratic states, he’s a sensitive political indicator. With his vote being closely watched on every major issue, Brown voted for the Obama administration’s arms control treaty with Russia and for repealing the military “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy for gay service members. But he voted against the DREAM Act to grant legal residency to children of illegal immigrants, calling it "backdoor amnesty."

  • Rep. Eric Cantor, House majority leader

    Jonathan Ernst  /  Reuters

    Elected in 2000, Cantor has risen to become one of his party’s most visible spokesman and a principal tactician for House Republicans. He got started in politics as a teenager by serving as a driver for Rep. Thomas Bliley, R-Va. Cantor now holds the Richmond-based House seat that Bliley once held.

  • Rep. David Dreier, chair, House Rules Committee

    Harry Hamburg  /  ASSOCIATED PRESS

    One of several Californians in leadership positions in the new Republican majority, Dreier will have the job of designing the rules for each piece of legislation that comes to the House, including how many amendments the minority party can offer to bills. First elected in 1980, Dreier served as Rules Committee chairman from 1998 to 2006, when the GOP was in the majority. If process controls legislative substance, then Dreier is the one who’ll control the process.

  • Rep. Darrell Issa, chair, House Oversight and Government Reform Committee

    Tim Sloan  /  AFP - Getty Images

    The grandson of Lebanese immigrants, Issa was born and raised in Cleveland and made his money in the car alarm business. He helped underwrite the recall effort against California Democratic Gov. Gray Davis in 2003 and spent $11 million on an unsuccessful bid to be GOP Senate candidate against Sen. Barbara Boxer in 1998. The six-term California Republican has promised to investigate vigorously alleged abuses of power by Obama administration officials. "Our committee is the committee of stopping government from taking away your liberties” and “stopping government from exceeding its authority,” he said. 

  • Sen. Jon Kyl, Senate minority whip

    Michael Reynolds  /  EPA

    Serving his third term in the Senate, after four terms in the House, Kyl is the chief GOP vote counter, figuring out members’ sentiment on bills and nominations. He’s up for re-election in 2012. The son of a former House member from Iowa, Kyl led the opposition to the Obama administration’s arms control treaty with Russia. “What we ought to be doing is focusing on Iran and North Korea and other places where maybe there is proliferation going on, and a desire to develop nuclear weapons that could potentially attack the United States,” he said.

  • Rep. Kevin McCarthy, House majority whip

    Chip Somodevilla  /  Getty Images

    First elected in 2006 from a safe Republican district which includes his hometown, Bakersfield, Calif., McCarthy has vaulted with impressive speed to the third-ranking position in GOP House leadership. He’ll be the first Republican from California to serve as majority whip. McCarthy learned politics from his former boss, Rep. Bill Thomas, whose seat he won when Thomas retired. McCarthy was Republican leader when he served in the California Assembly. According to the Los Angeles Times, McCarthy has “an encyclopedic knowledge about his House colleagues' idiosyncrasies and political needs” and “has pored over the profiles of lawmakers and their districts in the thick Almanac of American Politics on flights between California and Washington.”

  • Rep. Paul Ryan, chair, House Budget Committee

    Lauren Victoria Burke  /  AP

    A native of Janesville, Wisc., Budget Committee chairman Ryan has long been his party’s most articulate spokesman on spending. If Republicans really intend to cut spending, Ryan can tell them exactly where and how to do it. But Ryan’s plan for a voucher system to replace the open-ended Medicare entitlement makes some Republicans skittish. In the 2008 election, President Obama carried Ryan’s congressional district with 51 percent of the vote.

  • Sen. Olympia Snowe, R-Maine

    Chip Somodevilla  /  Getty Images

    Snowe is one of the decisive senators in the center whose vote often tells if a bill or amendment will pass. She is up for re-election in 2012. Obama won her state in 2008 with 58 percent of the vote. She opposed the Obama administration by voting against the DREAM Act to grant legal residency to children of illegal immigrants. She voted for the administration’s arms control treaty with Russia and for repealing the military “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy for gay service members.

  • Rep. Kristi Noem, R-S.D.

    Harry Hamburg  /  AP

    South Dakota cattle rancher and ex-state legislator Kristi Noem is one of two members of the class of 2010 who’ll be part of the House GOP leadership. She defeated Democrat Rep. Stephanie Herseth Sandlin, getting 48 percent of the vote in a three-way race. Delivering the weekly address for her party on Dec. 11, Noem twice used the word “humble,” calling herself "part of a new majority committed to being humble, more modest ... We are committed to making sure Washington humbles itself ...” Noem was a college student when her father was killed in an accident on the family farm. “I was 22-years old, we got hit pretty hard with estate taxes at that point in time, and I really started to recognize the impact that government and taxes had on small businesses and in an agricultural state like South Dakota,” she told an interviewer.

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