Meet the Press | January 27, 2013
>> let me have you respond to this other argument about entitlements, about the role of government. and the president really launched it as part of his inaugural address when he said this.
>> we recognize that no matter how responsibly we live our lives, any one of us, at any time, may face a job loss or a sudden illness or a home swept away in a terrible storm. the commitments we make to each other through medicare and medicaid and social security , these things do not sap our nation. they strengthen us. they do not make us a nation of takers. they free us to take the risk that make this country great.
>> now that line of attack, didn't mention you by name, but certainly mentions you in substance, went back to a number of comments that you made about the makers versus takers. here's one back in september of 2011 .
>> right now, according to the tax foundation , between 60% and 70% of americans get more benefits from the federal government than they pay to the government. so we have a society of makers versus takers.
>> if you keep the context going, my point in making that statistic is it's not as these statistics lead you to believe. we don't want a dependency culture. we want a safety net to get people on their feet. americans want the american dream . the point i make citing that statistic is it's not as it seems. people want the american dream . they want lives of opportunity. they want to reach their potential. and so our concern in this country is with the idea that more and more able-bodied people are becoming dependent upon the government than upon themselves for their livelihoods. we want to make sure we don't continue that trend. and when you take a look at those statistics, it's not as bad as those statistics say. people want lives of upper mobility. people want to chart their own course. they want to reach their potential. and our policies should be geared toward doing that. so no one is suggesting that medicare and social security makes you a taker. these are people like my mom, who worked hard, paid her taxes, and now is collecting the benefit that she paid for. no one is suggesting that people like my mom is a taker.
>> but you're citing figures that of course include entitlement reforms like social security .
>> when these statistics get cited, it leads you to think that america is gone, that we're becoming too much of a dependent culture. my point has always been, that's not the whole picture.
>> here is the criticism against you. and it was written about in the new york magazine blog this week, which goes to whether you want to expand the base of the party. here's what he writes. obama is arguing that misfortune can strike americans in all forms. a sdabt, a storm, illness, or merely outliving our savings. ryan 's budget imposes savage cuts to food stamps , children's health insurance , and other mitigations of suffering for the least fortunate. and ryan also voted against relief for victims of hurricane sandy. by ryan 's definition, if the government is rebuilding your destroyed home, you're a taker too.
>> look, this is a straw man argument. the president said earlier that we had suspicions about medicare and taking care of the elderly and feeding poor children. when he sets up these straw men, to affix views to add ver sears that they don't have, to win the argument by default, it's not an honest debate. we want to have a safety net . a safety net that's there for the vulnerable, poor, for people who cannot help themselves. but we don't want to have a culture in this country that encouraging more dependency that saps and drains people of their ability to make the most of their lives.
>> which part of the culture today is doing that? is part of this culture that you even benefited from after your father died.
>> so which part of the safety net culture is sapping america's opportunity right now?
>> this is the point we keep making with benefits like food stamps , for example. the benefits that he talks about, the changes we made, all we're saying is you actually have to be eligible for the program to receive it. we need to target it so that people that actually need them. if our reforms on food stamps went through, they would have grown by 260% over the last decade instead of 270%. when you call such reforms savage, that i think does a disservice to the quality of the debate we need to have. what we're trying to achieve is a system where you have that safety net to help people who cannot help themselves, but you have an opportunity of society, education reform , economic growth, so that people can get on their feet and make the most of their lives and reach their potential. and that's what we're worried about losing in this