Unpopular cuts likely, Rep. Paul Ryan warns

WASHINGTON — The chairman of the House Budget Committee said Sunday that Republicans will oppose tax increases and, as a result, deep, unpopular budget cuts probably will take effect.

Representative Paul Ryan, a Wisconsin Republican, told NBC’s ‘‘Meet the Press’’ that automatic spending cuts are scheduled to take hold because, ‘‘Democrats have opposed our efforts to replace those cuts with others.’’

Democrats have insisted taxes be part of the equation to dodge across-the-board spending cuts that are set to hit the Pentagon and many domestic programs. The spending cuts were set in motion in the hopes of spurring lawmakers to strike a large-scale deal to reduce the deficit.


Ryan, the 2012 Republican vice presidential nominee, said the country is heading toward a debt crisis if it doesn’t confront its spending.

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To push Democrats to negotiate budget cuts as a condition for raising the national debt ceiling, House GOP leaders said last week that they had crafted a ‘‘no budget, no pay’’ measure. The plan would withhold pay from any member of the House or Senate whose chamber doesn’t pass a budget this year.

The Senate is expected to approve the bill this week, but only after leaders make clear they think ‘‘no budget, no pay’’ is rife with flaws.

The proposal is before the Senate because the House breezed past objections that the idea is unconstitutional because it could ‘‘vary’’ the pay of lawmakers in violation of the 27th Amendment to the Constitution.

With the public approval ratings of Congress low, the House also ignored concerns that the measure is unfair to members who are in the minority and are powerless to determine whether a budget passes or not.


Nearly unmentioned was the prospect that withholding lawmakers’ pay favors wealthy members over those of more modest means and could, in theory, attract more affluent candidates better able to withstand having some of their $174,000 salary withheld.

‘‘The last thing we want to do is to say to people running for Congress, ‘If you’re not a millionaire, don’t run because there’s no guarantee you’ll be paid,’ ’’ said Representative Jerrold Nadler, a New York Democrat.

For these reasons and more, the idea went nowhere in the last congressional session. But it was embraced about a week ago by House GOP leaders such as Speaker John Boehner of Ohio as they struggled to avoid a potential market-crippling default on government obligations.

The logic behind ‘‘no budget, no pay’’ goes like this: Passing a budget is the core responsibility of Congress, so why should lawmakers get paid if they don’t do their main job?

The proposal is a slap at the Democratic-controlled Senate, which hasn’t passed a budget since 2009. Republicans advanced the measure as a one-year experiment rather than a permanent law.

Associated Press