Paul Ryan: "If You Fix Health Care, You Fix The Debt Crisis"


Fox Business Network's Maria Bartiromo grills House Speaker Paul Ryan, (R-Wis.), on the federal budget and what can be done to rein in government spending. Ryan makes the case that if Congress can fix the health care issue, it will also make the federal debt manageable.

"We have to fix health care if we're going to get away from this debt crisis," Ryan said. "Does that mean sacrifice your military in the meantime? No. it means build your military, grow your economy."

"That is the key driver of our debt in the future," Ryan said about health care costs. "Which is demographically driven. It's a combination of demographics and health care inflation. You fix health care, you fix the debt crisis."

BARTIROMO: And the Graham-Cassidy Obamacare repeal bill almost passed the Senate last year. This is one area where the president has said this is -- maybe should be the focus. Are you going to try this again this year?

RYAN: Well, I think there are a lot of things we can do kind of incrementally.

First of all, in this bill that we just passed, we got Medicare means testing. We repealed the iPad (ph). We got rid of some Obamacare slush funds. So we also repealed the individual mandate in the tax bill. So we've been doing incremental gains on health care reform, when we realized we couldn't get it done in one fell swoop, when the House bill didn't pass the Senate.

BARTIROMO: So what are your expectations for these trillion-dollar deficits? I mean, you know, we're talking about trillion dollar deficits for the next 10 years and then after a decade. Mya McGinnis (ph) --

RYAN: No, no, we're talking about it for as far as the eye can see because of demographics.

BARTIROMO: Exactly. Exactly. And Mya McGinnis says it's going to be a $2 trillion deficit for a decade.

RYAN: That's right. So it's because of demographics. It's not the military. If we can get -- we could abolish the Pentagon today, we'd still have a deficit. So we don't want to sacrifice our military while we focus on the real drivers of the debt, which is entitlements. And that is why, and it's really the health care entitlements, quite frankly. Social Security is a part of a solvency problem. They have a solvency problem. But nothing like we do on the health care entitlements. So that's why we can never give up on health care reform because that is the key driver of our debt in the future, which is demographically driven. It's a combination of demographics and health care inflation. You fix health care, you fix the debt crisis.

BARTIROMO: You're saying we have to get our arms and not stop on health care at our efforts to get costs down is not enough for the markets.

RYAN: Well --

BARTIROMO: The markets may push your hand. We're seeing thousand point declines. You're seeing nervousness about these deficits.

RYAN: I'll take whatever -- I'll take whatever it gets to get us to move. Like I said, we passed this bill in the House already. We've done this in the House. We've not been able to get these bills passed in the Senate, or over the finish line.

BARTIROMO: So what do you do?

RYAN: Well, I think we just keep --

BARTIROMO: I mean what's your realistic solution here?

RYAN: What we tried to do was do it all in the House bill with repeal and replace. Like I said, we passed it. And that bill -- one guy in the Senate did this instead of that and that -- that went down. That would have been the biggest entitlement reform bill ever passed by Congress.

So what are we doing? We're going back and doing it incrementally. Going back at incremental health care reform and other entitlement reforms so we can chip away at this problem. That is what we -- I think the best chance we have is going after incremental entitlement reform since the fact the Senate couldn't pass it.

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