April 4 (Bloomberg) — House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan said he rejects the premise that President Barack Obama’s health-care law can’t be repealed now that its first class of 7 million enrollees has signed up.
“I don’t think it can last,” Ryan said in an interview with Bloomberg Television to air on “Political Capital with Al Hunt” this weekend.
Ryan this week unveiled a budget plan that seeks to repeal the 2010 law known as Obamacare and would revise the U.S. safety net in an effort to eliminate the deficit in 10 years. The House will vote on the plan next week. House Democrats will release their alternative as soon as April 7.
The Republican budget proposal will serve as a contrast with Democrats’ fiscal priorities before the U.S. midterm election on Nov. 4. Senate Democratic leaders have said they plan to tie House members vying for Senate seats in Colorado, Montana and Louisiana to Ryan’s proposal.
“This is the fourth year we’ve passed a budget like this, fourth year we’ve said here’s how we plan on balancing the budget and paying off the debt,” Ryan said.
Ryan and Senate Budget Committee Chairman Patty Murray agreed in December on a two-year budget deal that sets top-line spending at $1.014 trillion for the 2015 fiscal year that starts Oct. 1. As such, Republicans don’t have to prepare a budget, Ryan said, though “we think we should say what we believe in if we don’t like the direction the country’s headed.”
Democrats contend that the enrollment the White House says passed 7 million by the March 31 deadline shows Obamacare can’t be unwound. Ryan said he disagrees with that premise.
House Republicans, who have voted to repeal, defund or delay the health-care law 55 times since taking over the chamber’s majority in 2011, are working to draft a replacement. That plan, which Ryan has been involved in creating, could be unveiled as soon as later this month.
“The architecture of this law is so fundamentally flawed that I think it’s going to collapse under its own weight,” said Ryan, a Wisconsin Republican. “And the sooner those of us who want true, real reform can show a better way forward, the faster we can repeal.”
Ryan said an alternative plan should remove the federal “command and lead in the health-care system.”
Ryan’s budget plan would boost defense spending offset by cuts to non-military programs that could reduce spending on everything from regulatory agencies and national parks.
The starkest contrasts between Ryan and Democrats are on balance — Ryan wants to balance the federal budget in 10 years and Obama’s budget doesn’t — and on how deficit reduction would be achieved. Ryan envisions significant changes to entitlement spending, including cuts to food stamps and Medicaid that knit together the U.S. safety net.
Ryan has called for a fundamental reappraisal of the way the U.S. addresses poverty 50 years after President Lyndon Johnson declared a war on poverty — which created what’s now 92 anti-poverty programs costing $799 billion annually.
Ryan’s budget would keep federal Pell grants for college study capped at $5,730 and tighten eligibility. He’d also make Congress appropriate all the money for the grants annually.
Democrats have latched on to the change as one that would cut aid to students as tuition continues to rise faster than inflation. Student loan debt has ballooned to $1.2 trillion as families borrow to cover the costs.
Ryan said Republicans are worried that increases in federal student aid have contributed to colleges raising costs.
“So the problem is, are we feeding tuition or are we getting at the root cause of this tuition inflation?” Ryan said. “That’s the argument we’re trying to make. Instead of just doing more of the same and getting the same predictable outcome, why don’t we try and get at the root cause of why does college cost so much in the first place?”
Ryan’s budget doesn’t specifically back a tax-code revision proposed by Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp, who’s blocked from another term as chairman by Republican term limits and will retire after this session of Congress.
The budget panel doesn’t write tax laws, Ryan said, though he said lawmakers should “continue this conversation” begun by Camp’s proposal.
Ryan, a senior member of the Ways and Means panel and his party’s 2012 vice presidential nominee, is seen as a front- runner to become Ways and Means chairman. Texas Republican Kevin Brady, a member of the panel, is also interested in the job.
Ryan deferred when pressed on whether he wants the job as chairman of the tax-writing panel. “I think it’s just too early to get into that,” he said.