Paul Ryan Questions Obama’s Grasp Of Fiscal Crisis

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(CNN) — Former GOP vice presidential nominee Rep. Paul Ryan said Sunday that President Barack Obama doesn’t appreciate the seriousness of the nation’s economic situation. “I don’t think that the president actually thinks we’re having a fiscal crisis,” Ryan said.

Appearing Sunday on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” his first live national television interview since last year’s election, Ryan shared his thoughts on the nation’s fiscal health and whether he’ll run for president in 2016.

Ryan defended his tough prescriptions for the economy: “We’re not preaching austerity, we’re preaching growth and opportunity. What we’re saying is, ‘If you get our fiscal ship fixed, you pre-empt austerity.'”

Major battles are set to take place this spring between Congress and the White House on issues from the government’s budget to raising the debt ceiling.

Last week, the House passed a bill which would effectively put off the debt ceiling crisis until mid-May, giving lawmakers time to find a longer-term solution on the issue. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has indicated he will seek to pass the bill and Obama said he would sign it.

But there’s more. If Congress doesn’t act by March 27, federal spending will be completely suspended and the government would be forced to shut down until lawmakers can agree on spending and taxes.

The other issue has to do with the so-called “sequester” cuts, which Congress postponed for two months following the fiscal cliff deal at the beginning of this year. Those cuts would slash critical items from the budget of both defense and some nondefense aspects of the government to help save money – but they’re cuts neither party wants.

Ryan said he doesn’t think the country is facing a government shutdown this spring, but he predicted the sequester cuts will happen.

“We can’t lose those spending cuts. That was to pay for the last debt ceiling increase, let alone any future increases,” Ryan said.

“We think the sequesters will happen because the Democrats have opposed our efforts to replace those cuts with others and they’ve offered no alternatives,” he added.

Ryan is the face of these issues for the GOP, so it’s clear he’s going to have a lot on his plate over the next few months.

But many wonder if he’s going to make a run for president in 2016. He said Sunday it was simply premature to speculate on what he might do in four years, especially while needing to deal with these immediate fiscal issues.

Still, he did take time to reflect on the 2012 election.

“It was a great experience, I feel that I benefited tremendously from that,” Ryan said. “Mitt Romney would have been one heck of a great president. He’s a very good man. And the big regret I have is that we didn’t win the election and that we weren’t able to put the kinds of reforms that we think are right for the country in place.”

By Greg Clary


CNNMoney’s Jeanne Sahadi contributed to this report.

The-CNN-Wire™ & © 2013 Cable News Network, Inc., a Time Warner Company. All rights reserved.

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