By noon last Thursday, U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), Chairman of the House Budget Committee, had battled post-“snowpocalypse” traffic, eaten at Real Chili and announced a $74 billion cut in federal spending.
Ryan appeared as the most recent guest of the “On the Issues” series hosted by Mike Gousha, a distinguished fellow of law and public policy at the Law School.
His day involved discussing the budget, outlining his “Roadmap for America’s Future” and addressing his personal political goals.
In a bill to be drafted by the end of this week, Ryan proposed $58 billion in cuts toward non-security spending and $16 billion in additional cuts from President Barack Obama’s original budget request.
Ryan said although these cuts will apply for the remainder of the 2011 fiscal year, he’ll propose a new budget this spring.
“I’m not interested in rubber-stamping uncontrolled spending,” Ryan said. “Borrowing and spending more money in Washington will not work … it will only create an inflation problem and more economic uncertainty.”
The “borrowing and spending” is most pertinent to the ongoing healthcare issue, he said. He also said Medicare and Medicaid will eventually face bankruptcy due to money that was taken out of their funds and put toward the new health care program.
“We don’t have money to cover the new entitlements,” he said. “But the president spent the last two years passing it. He won’t just take it back, meaning it is up to the people to decide what to do.”
In a proposal to fix this problem and others, Ryan drafted his “Roadmap for America’s Future.” The plan focuses on universal access to health insurance, returning federal spending to sustainable levels while removing future debt and placing the U.S. in a position to lead again via economic growth.
Although his main goal is to rein in federal spending, he also hopes to ensure the success of future generations.
This was addressed when one Marquette law student questioned the availability of insurance after graduation.
“I have epilepsy and my medicine costs $3,000 a month,” the student said. “If I lose my insurance I will have seizures all the time because I won’t have that type of money to spend. I just need to know how you plan on fixing my problem.”
Ryan responded by saying the new plan would still allow the student health care insurance until the age of 26. He also said payment premiums will decrease and the new law will offer better solutions.
Many Wisconsin families have similar concerns regarding the new law. At the Jan. 26 Budget Committee Hearing, Dennis Smith, Secretary of the Wisconsin Department of Health Services addressed how it will affect those families.
Smith said the new law will cause median-level income families, or the majority of Wisconsin, to see an increase in their insurance premiums, which would create greater costs than benefits.
He also said about 475,000 people are leaving their private insurance coverage to enter the government’s system.
“In Wisconsin, total population is about 5.5 million people, so close to 10 percent of people will have their current insurance coverage disrupted,” Smith said.
Ryan did not address Smith’s conclusions during the event. He did, however, speak of how he is too focused on the budget to consider higher elected office at this time.
When Gousha mentioned a possible bid for presidency, Ryan rejected the idea.
“My head’s not that big and my kids are too small,” Ryan said. “All of it is flattering, but to do that job, I have to really want to be the President of the United States. My marriage and responsibilities as a father are too important … I just couldn’t do it.”