Paul Ryan on sequester: "I think it's going to happen"
(CBS News) Congressman and former vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan said he expects the drastic round of automatic across-the-board spending cuts - known as the sequester - to be implemented despite the fact that both parties largely agree they're a bad idea. the House Budget Committee and spoke out on "CBS This Morning," Wednesday, to share his reaction to the president's State of the Union address.
In an appearance on "CBS This Morning" Wednesday, the chairman of the House Budget Committee condemned what he calls economic "brinksmanship" practiced by the president and Democrats in the Senate.
Ryan said the sequester, which would go into effect next month, is likely, "because the president hasn't put a budget on the table. The Senate hasn't passed a budget in four years ... Don't forget that it's the president who first proposed the sequester and it's the president who designed the sequester as it is now designed."
"We have acted in the House. The president has not. The Senate has not and therefore ... I think it's going to happen."
The sequester, agreed upon by lawmakers last summer as part of the solution to a bitter fight over the debt ceiling, was designed to be so drastic that both sides would be forced to reach an alternate agreement on deficit reduction. So far, that hasn't happened.
Turning to gun control -- another key issue addressed by President Obama Tuesday night -- Ryan said that while House Republicans are "focused on the sequester, on the economy," that they will wait to see what the "Senate can pass and send over to the House and then we can take that legislation up."
Ryan expressed concerns over proposed gun legislation, explaining, "the president didn't mention the other things we ought to be looking at. What about a mental illness policy, a comprehensive mental illness policy to make sure we can ... identify these individuals? What's happening in our culture that's producing this kind of evil?"
He added that "As a parent ... I want to fix this ... we need to look into these deeper issues ... I'd hate to miss this opportunity ... and instead sort of recycle failed policies of the past. I hope this doesn't become a partisan football."
In general, Ryan characterized Obama's speech as "pretty par for the course," for Obama - "very liberal, pretty partisan" - and said the president is once again in "campaign mode" as he travels around the country in the days after the State of the Union. "He seems to always stay in campaign mode," Ryan said, "he treats other people as the enemy, not as partners. If he really wanted to get things done, he would come here and work with us instead of campaigning around the country."
In terms of his own next steps, Ryan stopped short of admitting to 2016 presidential aspirations, saying "I want to stop the country from having a debt crisis. I want to make sure my children inherit a debt free nation and a better standard of living ... that's what I'm focusing on. Where I can best do that, I'll have to decide later."
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