Even before the Republican Party’s “Pledge to America” was officially released on Thursday, Democrats were painting it as a return to the failed policies of the Bush years.
“The Republicans running for Congress, they want the next two years to look like the eight years before I took office,” President Obama charged at a Wednesday fundraiser. “The chair of one of their campaign committees already told us their intentions. He said that if the other party takes control of Congress, they plan to pursue — and I’m quoting here — the ‘exact same agenda’ as they did during the last administration.”
“You heard the president,” ABC’s George Stephanopoulos asked Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) on Thursday morning. “How is it different?”
Ryan, who is the ranking Republican on the House Budget Committee, responded that “cutting spending, creating jobs, putting the policies of economic growth in place, and cleaning up the way Congress works … stands in sharp contrast to the way Republicans conducted ourselves a decade ago. … We spent too much money. We lost our way.”
Although Ryan spoke of cutting spending, however, his ideas for reviving the economy appeared to revolve around extending the Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans, along with repealing a few programs, like health care reform and the stimulus, that are particularly unpopular with Republicans.
“The two central items on the agenda,” Stephanopoulos noted, “are extending the tax cuts passed under President Bush, repealing the health care passed under President Obama. Those are going to cost at least four trillion dollars over the next ten years, and your pledge doesn’t spell out anything close to paying for that four trillion dollars.”
“I brought a budget to the floor last year that cut $4.8 trillion in spending,” Ryan replied.
This was a reference to his “Roadmap for America’s Future,” released last February, which proposed privatizing Social Security, turning Medicare into a voucher system that would by design not keep pace with actual health care costs, and enacting what Think Progress described as “draconian real cuts in all domestic programs.”
“You do concede that you do not have a path to balance the budget and you don’t pay for the tax cuts that you’re extending,” Stephanopoulos remarked, adding that even “the rest of the Republicans aren’t signing onto” the “Roadmap.”
“We do actually have a plan to get this country back on track,” Ryan insisted. “We want to balance the budget by controlling spending.”
His chief emphases, however, continued to be on tax cuts. “The problem we have right now is jobs,” he stated. “We need job creation. Taxing capital gains, taxing dividends, taxing small businesses will hurt us from creating jobs.”
“There’s a big uncertainty problem,” Ryan concluded. “Businesses aren’t hiring because of all this government uncertainty. We want to address that.”
This video is from ABC’s Good Morning America, broadcast Sept. 23, 2010.