The Republican budget proposal will eliminate the national debt while still preserving costly entitlement programs like Medicare and Social Security, Rep. Paul Ryan told CNBC.
Speaking just hours before the spending plan gets its formal introduction before Congress, Ryan, head of the House Budget Committee, said the debt will peak at 74.5 percent of gross domestic product in 2014 and then drop from there.
“We’ve got to show the country that we can get this situation under control and grow the economy, and that’s what we’re doing,” he said. “So whether (Democratic Senate Majority Leader) Harry Reid is willing to pass this bill or Barack Obama is ready to sign it, I don’t know the answer to that question.
“What I do know is I can’t look my kids and my constituents in the eyes with my conscience being clear and not know that I didn’t do everything I could to try and fix this problem before it got out of control.”
Among the key tenets in a budget resolution to be presented are fundamental changes to the way Medicare and Medicaid are financed. The resolution forestalls action on Social Security, though Ryan said he expects a bipartisan agreement on that issue later this year.
More broadly, the plan contains provisions that Ryan has said will slash $4 trillion from federal spending over the next decade.
The resolution is necessary as a potential shutdown looms over Washington and Congress must approve raising the national debt limit.
Ryan acknowledged the political obstacles he will face both from Democrats and some members of this own party who may bristle at the aggressive spending cuts involved.
“The problem in Washington is, they take any honest and sincere attempt to fix this problem and use it as a political weapon against you in the next election,” he said. “We can’t let that deter us.”