Ryan, Johnson Sharply Disagree on GOP House Budget

CANFIELD, Ohio – U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan, D-13 Ohio, expressed his disappointment with the fiscal 2016 budget while U.S. Rep. Bill Johnson, R-6 Ohio, said Congress needs to be “fiscally responsible” as it meets the country’s primary needs.

The two congressmen, whose districts split Mahoning County, spoke to The Business Journal Friday following a closed-door meeting at Tippecanoe Country Club with employees and customers of Talmer Bank (READ STORY).

The budget, which the House Budget Committee discharged last week, contains significant spending cuts as well as repeal of the Affordable Care Act.

“There’s a way to balance the budget in the long run without just slashing programs,” said Ryan, who serves on the House Budget Committee. “We can get to a balanced budget. I want to get to a balanced budget, which doesn’t happen overnight on the heels of a major collapse of our economy.

“It’s going to take some time and my concern is we’re cutting the seed corn that leads to growth and investments in education and research,” he continued. “If you cut that out, there is no growth. And if there is no growth, there’s no balanced budget, So we’ve got to be very smart.”

Johnson said he expects the full House to adopt a budget this week. He hopes the Senate would do likewise “so we’ll be able to put something together that the appropriators can use to begin passing appropriations bills, something that we’ve not been able to do in previous Senates.”

Following the 2014 elections, Republicans hold majorities in both houses of Congress. The Senate presented its budget last week.

Johnson defended the priorities in the House budget.

“We’ve got to manage our spending but we’ve also got to make sure that we’re providing enough funding for our national security,” he emphasized.

“It’s a dangerous place out there and every day that we wake up there’s an evil enemy that’s probing at the perimeter fence of freedom, and America has to remain strong,” Johnson declared. “So we’ve got to make sure that we’re funding our Defense Department and our national security the right way.”

Ryan homed his criticism at the GOP budget that would reduce funding for the National Science Foundation and National Institutes of Health, and for rejecting an amendment he proposed to strengthen manufacturers and help them grow. The budget “just lacks any vision for our country,” the Democrat said.

“Everybody wants a little bit more of this or a little bit less of that,” Johnson, the Republican, said. “The truth is we’re $18 trillion in debt. We’ve got to find a way to bend the spending curve in the opposite direction. Otherwise we’re leaving a future for our children and our grandchildren that’s pretty dismal.”

“I have children too and I don’t want that hanging over their head. Nobody does. The question is: How do you get there?” Ryan responded. “You need economic growth and if you’re cutting those very investments that lead to economic growth, you’re not going to be able to balance the budget and reduce the debt.”

The nation’s economy “got wrecked” from 2008 through 2010 and is still recovering, but the country is still wealthy enough to make “essential investments,” Ryan remarked.

“Look at our roads. Look at our bridges. They’re in terrible shape,” he said. “We’ve got to rebuild those. We can’t wait until we pay off the debt to rebuild our roads and bridges, and the idea that tax cuts are going to somehow fill a pothole or tax cuts are going to land a man on the Moon or convert our energy system really aren’t based in reality.”

WATCH VIDEO: Today’s “3 Minutes With” Bill Johnson

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