In their reaction to the President's FY 2012 budget proposal, the House Republican leadership has been very critical of the President's reluctance to use this opportunity to address the true drivers of our mounting debt -- the largest of which being entitlements. And now, Republicans have pledged to take up this daunting challenge. The President declined to include entitlement reform in his budget proposal, saying in his press conference yesterday that a phased approach, beginning with discretionary spending, was necessary to put our fiscal house in order. Republicans in the House will challenge this assumption by including entitlement reform in their budget, which will be released in April.
In a statement released yesterday by Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH), Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA), Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), Conference Chairman Jeb Hensarling (R-TX), and Budget Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) the Republican leadership outlined their intentions. They stated in full:
"The American people are ready to get serious about tackling our fiscal challenges, but President Obama's budget fails to lead. The President's budget punts on entitlement reform and actually makes matters worse by spending too much, taxing too much, and borrowing too much - stifling job growth today and threatening our economic future.
"The President says that he wants to win the future, but we can't win the future by repeating the mistakes of the past or putting off the responsibilities in the present. Our budget will lead where the President has failed, and it will include real entitlement reforms so that we can have a conversation with the American people about the challenges we face and the need to chart a new path to prosperity. Our reforms will focus both on saving these programs for current and future generations of Americans and on getting our debt under control and our economy growing. By taking critical steps forward now, we can fulfill the mission of health and retirement security for all Americans without making changes for those in or near retirement. We hope the President and Democratic leaders in Congress will demonstrate leadership and join us in working toward responsible solutions to confront the fiscal and economic challenges before us."
Addressing entitlements is essential to getting our deficits under control. As CBO reported recently, Social Security will post a deficit this year and every year for the foreseeable future. And health-care will continue to consume a larger and larger proportion of our budget. It will be absolutely necessary to restructure our entitlements to return us to a secure fiscal footing. We hope the White House and members of Congress will be able to work together to achieve meaningful reform on this critical issue.