While congressional leaders continue to debate about how to curb America’s ballooning debt, House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wis., and President Barack Obama have finally reached an agreement of sorts: They all agree that there is no immediate debt problem.
“We do not have an immediate debt crisis but we all know that we have one looming,” Boehner said on ABC’s “This Week” on Sunday. “We have one looming because we have entitlement programs that are not sustainable in their current form. They’re going to go bankrupt.”
And Ryan said the same thing on CBS's “Face the Nation.”
“We do not have a debt crisis right now but we see it coming,” he said, adding Republicans are working to get ahead of the problem.
During an interview on ABC’s “Good Morning America” last week, Obama also said America faced no immediate crisis in terms of the debt and added, “For the next 10 years, it’s going to be in a sustainable place.”
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The president has been calling on congressional Republicans and Democrats to strike a deal that includes spending cuts and tax increases to override the sequester that took effect March 1. The sequester will cut $1.2 trillion from the deficit over the next decade. These cuts are split evenly between defense spending and domestic spending.
The grand bargain Obama hopes for is asking both sides to make some serious concessions they are hesitant about. Democrats want to preserve entitlements and the social safety net for the poor, while making the wealthy pay more through taxes. Republicans oppose another tax increase and instead want the government to cease spending money it doesn’t have. They are pushing for entitlement reforms.
Not Going To Get Far
And if Obama holds firm to his position for more taxes, then Boehner said he will hit a roadblock.
“We’re not going to get very far,” Boehner said. “The president got his tax hikes on Jan. 1. The talk about raising revenue is over. It’s time to deal with the spending problem.”
And Boehner remains uncertain whether a grand bargain is still possible, especially seeing that both the House and Senate have put forward competing 2014 budgets. The speaker is hopeful, however, that the two budget resolutions will go to conference.
Boehner also told ABC that he doesn't know how long it will take before the country solves its fiscal problems.
“Nobody knows where this is,” he said. “It could be a year or two years, three years, four years.”
Ryan recently presented a budget that balances in 10 years without raising taxes. It includes all the savings from policies already in place such as the sequester and the tax increase during the fiscal cliff and the more than $700 billion in Medicare savings through Obamacare. Ryan seeks to repeal Obamacare but keep the benefits. He called it a “massive budget buster” aiding the deficit. If there is delay in dealing with the budget, Ryan said young people and seniors are in for “a rude awakening” in the future.
“Our budget encapsulates what we think is the right way to go,” he said “Face the Nation.” “It is a responsible, balance budget.”
The real question, according to Ryan, is whether lawmakers are ever going to bridge the gap.