Van Hollen: GOP budget would cost 800,000 jobs

Chris Van Hollen
Rep. Chris Van Hollen, D-Md., the Ranking Democrat on the House Budget Committee, on 'Face the Nation,' Feb. 20, 2011.
Chris Usher/CBS News

Maryland Democrat Chris Van Hollen argued on Sunday that 800,000 Americans could lose their jobs if the GOP's budget proposal was enacted, and warned against making "reckless" cuts to the federal budget.

In an appearance on CBS' "Face the Nation," Van Hollen said that "everybody agrees we need to get the deficit under control," but argued that drastic cuts in 2011 would damage an already fragile economy.

"The bipartisan commission on fiscal responsibility specifically warned against deep, immediate cuts in the year 2011. Why? Because it would hurt a fragile economy and put people out of work," he told CBS' Bob Schieffer. "In fact, there are estimates that about 800,000 Americans would lose their jobs if you do this in a reckless manner."

Van Hollen criticized House Speaker John Boehner for what he described as a "callous" attitude toward the prospect of American job loss in the face of budget cuts, and argued that Republicans were taking the "wrong approach" toward mending the economy.

"We think we need to get the economy fully in gear, put together a plan now for cuts, and frankly we need to look at the revenue piece," Van Hollen said. "We need to close some of the tax loopholes for special interests like the oil companies - $40 billion worth of loopholes.

"I hope our Republican friends will join us in closing some of those," he added.

Also on the program, Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., chairman of the House Budget Committee, conceded that he did not expect the Senate to pass the House Republicans' budget proposal, and predicted "some short-term extensions while we negotiate these things with spending cuts.

"Look, we're not looking for a government shutdown," he said. "But at the same time, we're also not looking at rubber stamping these really high elevated spending levels that Congress blew through the joint two years ago.

"We want real spending cuts," he added.

Ryan did not address the figure of 800,000 potential job reductions, but argued that President Obama's budget failed to adequately tackle the deficit and would lead to a halt in job creation.

"High deficits and uncontrolled debt means job creation goes away today," he said. "If you actually get this deficit and debt under control, you can help jobs today. Our goal is to cut spending and grow the economy and get prosperity in a lasting way back in place.

"We know if we keep going down this same path of borrowing and spending more money and taxing, it won't produce new results - because we've already seen what it does," he argued.

Ryan also said the nation's "huge fiscal problem" was primarily being driven by our entitlements, and argued that the issues needed to be addressed directly.

"We don't have much more road to keep kicking the can down the road," he said. "We have to get serious about this. We're going to lead and propose serious solutions to this country's problems so we can get growing again."

Van Hollen countered that Social Security was not responsible for the rise in the deficit, and argued that Republicans are "not serious" about Medicare reforms.

"Social Security is not a driver of these deficits and debt. We're not going to balance the budget on the backs of Social Security beneficiaries," he said.

"The health care reform bill we just passed included significant Medicare reform," he added. "What was the response of our Republican colleagues? They ran ads against Democratic Members of Congress in districts around the country saying that they were cutting Medicare. It was 'Medi-scare' ads.

"Yes, we should come together to talk about these things, but what just happened in the last election was a clear indication that they're not serious," said Van Hollen.