WASHINGTON -- Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) defended Republicans' plan to cut $60 billion from current spending levels, including $1.4 billion in job training programs and $600 million in border security, telling Fox News Sunday that he dismisses concerns that sudden cuts would worsen the economy.
"I am not worried about Washington cutting too much spending too fast," he said. "The kind of cuts we are talking about right now are $100 billion out of a $3 trillion budget."
House Republicans unveiled a bill on Friday that would trim $60 billion from current spending for the remainder of the 2011 fiscal year, while at the same time increasing defense spending by more than $8 billion. Congress must pass a bill by March 4 to continue funding the government, which Ryan said may require a short-term continuing resolution while House Republicans and Senate Democrats come to an agreement on the budget for the remainder of the year.
Within those cuts are billions of dollars of proposed spending decreases for a number of government agencies and programs, including the Department of Education and the Environmental Protection Agency. The bill proposes $1.4 billion in cuts for job-training programs and $715 million from government rental assistant programs -- including Section 8 housing vouchers -- that help families pay their rent.
Ryan said he stands behind the proposed cuts to popular programs. "No matter how popular these programs are, they mortgage our children's future and they compromise our current growth," he said.
Ryan said the proposed cuts are only the beginning of Republicans' plans to decrease the debt, but declined to go into detail about his plans for cutting entitlements. He said he would like to see cuts to entitlement programs, such as Social Security and Medicaid, in President Barack Obama's upcoming 2012 budget.
"If the president's budget ignores those programs, that means he is abdicating leadership on dealing with the deficit," he said. "Presidents are elected to lead, not to punt, and this president has been punting."
UPDATE: House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) echoed Ryan's statements on Sunday morning, telling NBC's "Meet the Press" he does not think the proposed spending cuts would damage the economy. "We're broke," he said. "What's really dangerous is if we continue to do nothing and allow the status quo to stay in place."
Boehner said he sent a letter to Obama on Sunday morning from Republicans arguing that "cutting spending now will help create a better environment for creating jobs."
Like Ryan, Boehner said there must be changes to entitlements, but declined to go into detail on Republicans' plans to change them. "I think it's incumbent on leaders in Washington to go out and help people understand how big the problem is," he said. "Then and only then should we begin to lay out an array of options for dealing with these problems."
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