Photo: Reuters / Jim Young)
House Speaker John Boehner and House Budget Committee Chairman Rep. Paul Ryan agree with President Obama that the nation does not have an immediate debt crisis, but they see it coming and want lawmakers to deal with it before it's too late.
"We do not have an immediate debt crisis. But we all know that we have one looming," Boehner (R-Ohio) said on ABC's "This Week" on Sunday. "And we have – one looming – because we have entitlement programs that are not sustainable in their current form. They're gonna go bankrupt."
Boehner added that Washington has a responsibility "to our seniors and our near-seniors" to "firm up these programs so that they're there for the long term." Otherwise, he warned, "not only will they not get benefits, we will have a debt crisis right around the corner. We have time to solve our problems. But we need to do it now."
Also on Sunday, Ryan (R-Wis.) told CBS' "Face the Nation," that the United States is still a step ahead of the European nations, but that may not be for too long.
"To borrow a phrase from my friend Erskine Bowles, we are the healthiest-looking horse in the glue factory," Ryan said. "That means America is still a step ahead of the European nations who are confronting a debt crisis,' and of Japan, "that's in its second lost decade."
Ryan attributed "our resilient economy" to "our world currency status." "But, we see it [debt crisis] coming," he added. "We know it's irrefutably happening. And the point we're trying to make with our budget is, let's get ahead of this problem."
Last week, Obama told ABC News, "We don't have an immediate crisis in terms of debt."
Boehner said he does not agree with the president that nothing needs to be done about it right now. "His point, as he went on to say in that interview, is that we don't – we don't really need to do anything at this point. And I would argue that we do need to do something," the House speaker stressed.
On whether a deal to rein in the deficit was possible, Boehner did not sound optimistic. "I don't know whether we can …come to …a big agreement. If we do - it'll be between the two parties on Capitol Hill. Hopefully – we can go to conference on these budgets and hope springs eternal in my mind."
The House speaker said he was determined not to discuss new taxes. "The talk about raising revenue is over," he said. "It's time to deal with the spending problem."
CBS' Bob Schieffer asked Ryan whether he trusts Obama and congressional Democrats. Ryan replied, "I subscribe to the Reagan school of thought which is 'Trust but verify.'"