Why Paul Ryan will vote 'no' on deficit commission report

Rep. Paul Ryan (R) of Wisconsin praised Obama's debt commission report at a Monitor Breakfast Thursday, but said he wouldn't vote for it because it fattened health care.

Michael Bonfigli/Special to The Christian Science Monitor
Rep. Paul Ryan (R) of Wisconsin appeared at a Monitor-sponsored breakfast for reporters Thursday.

Rep. Paul Ryan (R) of Wisconsin said Thursday that he plans to vote “no” on the president’s debt commission report on Friday.

Congressman Ryan, one of 12 members of Congress on the 18-member bipartisan debt commission, had telegraphed a no vote on Wednesday, but stated straight-up at a Monitor breakfast for reporters Thursday that that is his decision.

"Obviously, I’m not going to vote for it,” said Congressman Ryan, who is an important voice on the commission as incoming chairman of the House Budget Committee come January.

Ryan’s biggest problem with the debt commission report, he said, was that “it not only didn’t address the elephant in the room, health care, it made it fatter.“

Still, he called the commission a “success,” because the two co-chairs, former Sen. Alan Simpson (R) of Wyoming and former Clinton White House chief of staff Erskine Bowles (D), put a plan on the table. (Simpson and Bowles were guests at a Monitor Breakfast last month.)

“I mean, as the person who’s had a plan out there for about three years – the only one – I’m really happy that I’ve got some company now,” Ryan said. He was referring to his own Roadmap for America’s Future, which addresses the nation’s unsustainable deficits and debt by reining in entitlement spending.

Ryan and commission member Alice Rivlin, a Democratic former White House budget director, drafted their own plan for dealing with Medicare and Medicaid. The so-called Ryan-Rivlin plan would turn Medicare into a voucher program and would make Medicaid a block grant program from the federal government to the states. Their proposal was not included in the Bowles-Simpson plan.

At a time of high partisanship, Ryan sang the praises of both Ms. Rivlin and Mr. Bowles, calling them “my new favorite Democrats.”

“These are wonderful human beings who really care about the country, who bring a left-of-center perspective to things, but they’re people you can work with,” Ryan said. “I hope there are more people like that that can form a coalition in this country to fix these problems.“

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