It all took place at the GOP House Issues Conference in Baltimore. Before asking his question, Ryan, R-WI, 1st District, introduced the President to his daughter, Liza; sons, Charlie and Sam; and wife, Janna. Then, according to a transcript, Ryan tossed this at Obama:
"The spending bills that you have signed into law, the domestic and discretionary spending has been increased by 84 percent. You now want to freeze spending at this elevated level beginning next year. This means that total spending in your budget would grow at 300ths of 1 percent less than otherwise. I would simply submit that we could do more and start now."Obama easily deflects blame for the 84% increase:
"The fact of the matter is that most of the increases in this year's budget, this past year's budget, were not as a consequence of policies that we initiated, but instead were built in as a consequence of the automatic stabilizers that kick in because of this enormous recession.He also rejects Ryan's suggestion that the freeze take effect immediately, saying that experts agree:
"So the increase in the budget for this past year was actually predicted before I was even sworn into office and had initiated any policies. Whoever was in there, Paul -- and I don't think you'll dispute that -- whoever was in there would have seen those same increases because of, on the one hand, huge drops in revenue, but at the same time people were hurting and needed help. And a lot of these things happen automatically."
"...if you either increased taxes or significantly lowered spending when the economy remains somewhat fragile, that that would have a de-stimulative effect and potentially you'd see a lot of folks losing business, more folks potentially losing jobs. That would be a mistake when the economy has not fully taken off. "But the second part of Ryan's question got more traction. Ryan said:
"You've also said that you want to take a scalpel to the budget and go through it line by line. We want to give you that scalpel. I have a proposal with my home state senator, Russ Feingold, a bipartisan proposal, to create a constitutional version of the line-item veto."And Obama responded:
"I think there's not a president out there that wouldn't love to have it. And, you know, I think that this is an area where we can have a serious conversation. I know it is a bipartisan proposal by you and Russ Feingold.Obama mentioned earmarks, and gave Ryan props for taking the issue "pretty seriously."
"I don't like being held up with big bills that have stuff in them that are wasteful but I've got to sign because it's a defense authorization bill and I've got to make sure that our troops are getting the funding that they need."
RYAN: OK. I'd like to walk you through it, because we have a version we think is constitutional . . .The Washington Post's transcript of their exchange is HERE. And from the White House, here's a transcript of the entire session.
OBAMA: Let me take a look at it.
RYAN: I would simply say that automatic stabilizer spending is mandatory spending. The discretionary spending, the bills that Congresses signs -- that you sign into law, that has increased 84 percent. So . . .
OBAMA: We'll have a -- we'll have a longer debate on the budget numbers there, all right?
And HERE and HERE are two early reports saying that Ryan came out very well in the exchange.
There even was a little humor. As ABC News reported:
At another point, pushing for “a tone of civility instead of slash-and-burn,” the president said the media doesn’t report on the positive. “I don’t get a lot of credit if I say, ‘You know, I think Paul Ryan's a pretty sincere guy and has a beautiful family.’ Nobody's going to run that in the newspapers, right?”Following their exchange, Ryan issued a statement:
The crowd laughed.
“And by the way, in case he's going to get a Republican challenge, I didn't mean it,” the president joked. Turning to Ryan, he said, “I don't want to -- don't want to hurt you, man.”
“President Obama proved to be an honest broker this afternoon in acknowledging our unsustainable fiscal path. The President highlighted a serious proposal to tackle our entitlement crisis. Reflecting the deteriorating economic and fiscal condition since first released in 2008, I put forward ‘A Roadmap for America’s Future 2.0’ earlier this week to fulfill the mission of health and retirement security, lift the crushing burden of debt, and boost jobs and competitiveness in the 21st century global economy.AND, here's VIDEO of Obama discussing Ryan's plan at the session.
"I applaud the President for rejecting his Democratic colleagues’ false ‘Party of No’ attacks. Tackling our economic and fiscal challenges require real solutions and serious dialogue. I look forward to working with the President on rising above the partisan attacks – and tackling our generation’s greatest challenges.”