Friday, February 17, 2012

Geithner To Ryan On Debt: We Don't "Have A Definitive Solution To Our Long-Term Problem"

House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan and Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner spar over debt. Transcript below: Ryan: Here's the point, if you'll allow me. This is your time, so we'll just take a long time. Here's the point. Leaders are supposed to fix problems. We have a $99.4 trillion unfunded liability. Our government is making promises to Americans that it has no way of accounting for them. And so you're saying yeah, we're stabilizing it but we're not fixing it in the long run. That means we're just going to keep lying to people. We're going to keep all these empty promises going. And so what we're saying is, in order to avert a debt crisis -- you're the Treasury Secretary -- if we can't make good on our bonds in the future, who is going to invest in our country? We do not want to have a debt crisis. And so it comes down to confidence and trajectory. Do we have confidence that we're getting our fiscal situation under control, that we're preventing the debt from getting at these catastrophic levels? If we go back to the preceding chart, number 13, you're showing that you have no plan to get this debt under control. You're saying we'll stabilize it but then it's just going to shoot back up. So my argument is, that's Europe. That is bringing us toward a European debt crisis because we're showing the world, the credit market's future seniors -- people who are organizing their lives around the promises that are being made to them today -- that we don't have a plan to make good on this. Geithner: Mr. Chairman, as I said, maybe we're not disagreeing in a sense. I made it absolutely clear that what our budget does is get our deficit down to a sustainable path over the budget window. Ryan: And then they take back off. Geithner: Why do they take off again? Why do they do that? Ryan: Because we have 10,000 people retiring everyday and healthcare costs going up. Geithner: That's right. We have millions of Americans retiring everyday, and that will drive substantial further rise in the growth of healthcare costs. We're not coming before you to say we have a definitive solution to our long-term problem. What we do know is we don't like yours.

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