NBC's Curry Rips Ryan Budget: 'Where is the Empathy?' Won't Poor People 'Suffer'?

In an interview with Congressman Paul Ryan on Tuesday's NBC Today, co-host Ann Curry slammed the Wisconsin Republican's proposed budget: "Where is the empathy in this budget?...Do you acknowledge that poor people will suffer under his budget? That you have shown a lack of empathy to poor people in this budget?" [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]

Curry cited a left-wing non-profit group in condemning the plan: "...the Center of Budget and Policy Priorities....says 62% of the savings in your budget would come from cutting programs for the poor. That between 8 and 10 million people would be kicked off of food stamps. That you would cut Medicare by 200 billion, Medicaid and other health programs by something like 770 billion."

Curry failed to make any mention of the organization's clearly liberal agenda. The Center of Budget and Policy Priorities mission statement reads: "The Center conducts research and analysis to help shape public debates over proposed budget and tax policies and to help ensure that policymakers consider the needs of low-income families and individuals in these debates.  We also develop policy options to alleviate poverty."

Ryan dismissed the slanted figures:

So, not only do I take issue with a lot of their analysis and their numbers, spending in all of these programs still increases under our budget. You have to remember food stamps quadrupled over the last decade. So what we're saying is we have to bring spending to a more sustainable rate of growth. And we can't keep spending at the pace we are on, otherwise we will have a debt crisis.

In response to Curry's declaration that the poor would "suffer" under the budget proposal, Ryan pushed back:

Quite the contrary. Our poverty rates are the highest they've been in a generation. One out of six people are in poverty today. The President's policies are not working and we're advancing pro-growth policies to get people off of welfare on to work....We just don't agree that throwing more money at failed programs works. We want to reform these programs so that they actually achieve the result of getting people on their lives of self-sufficiency.

Prior to personally tearing down the budget, Curry highlighted Democratic attacks on the plan: "President Obama, in his discussion, seems to be really almost running against you. He started talking about your budget being a Trojan horse. I mean, how do you explain this?...Why is he targeting you?"

Ryan responded: "You know, we've gotten kind of used to this sort of verbal tantrums from the President. To me it's a little more petulance than presidential.... I think it's because we're actually offering solutions to a debt crisis where he isn't. So I think we – our existence and our solutions point out the fact that he hasn't offered any solutions to these problems."

Curry also dismissed the Republican budget as futile: "You talk about this being a solution. Of course your budget was passed last week by the House but the Senate's not going to pass it. The President's not going to sign it. So what do you want most to come out of this exercise?"

Curry chose to ignore the fact that the President's budget recently failed to get a single vote in the House. In addition, Ryan pointed out: "The law requires the Senate pass their budget as well, but they have decided for three years now, over 1,000 days, not to even budget. I – it boggles my mind that we're not going to be passing budgets when the biggest crisis confronting this generation is a budget-driven crisis."


Here is a portion of the April 10 interview:

7:13AM ET

(...)

CURRY: Meantime, you say that you haven't even thought about being on this ticket.

RYAN: I haven't given it serious thought.

CURRY: And – serious thought about being on this ticket – and yet President Obama, in his discussion, seems to be really almost running against you.

RYAN: Yeah.

CURRY: He started talking about your budget being a Trojan horse. I mean, how do you explain this?

RYAN: You know, we've gotten kind of used to this sort of verbal tantrums from the President. To me it's a little more petulance than presidential.

CURRY: Why is he targeting you?

RYAN: I think it's because we're actually offering solutions to a debt crisis where he isn't. So I think we – our existence and our solutions point out the fact that he hasn't offered any solutions to these problems. And we want to confront a debt crisis before everybody gets hurt. Before we have a crisis on our hands. And I think because we've offered these principled solutions and he has not, he's trying to use, you know, this kind of rhetoric to distort away from his failed record.

CURRY: You talk about this being a solution. Of course your budget was passed last week by the House but the Senate's not going to pass it.     

RYAN: I know.

CURRY: The President's not going to sign it. So what do you want most to come out of this exercise?

RYAN: I want us to fix the problem. I want us to give our kids a better future. I want us to pay off the debt. And so, what we thought we would do is we would pass our version of what we think the solution is. The law requires the Senate pass their budget as well, but they have decided for three years now, over 1,000 days, not to even budget. I – it boggles my mind that we're not going to be passing budgets when the biggest crisis confronting this generation is a budget-driven crisis.

CURRY: Let me ask you about this because the Center of Budget and Policy Priorities, says 60 – you're smiling because you know about this...

RYAN: I do.

CURRY: ...says 62% of the savings in your budget would come from cutting programs for the poor. That between 8 and 10 million people would be kicked off of food stamps. That you would cut Medicare by 200 billion, Medicaid and other health programs by something like 770 billion. Where is the empathy in this budget?

RYAN: So, not only do I take issue with a lot of their analysis and their numbers, spending in all of these programs still increases under our budget. You have to remember food stamps quadrupled over the last decade. So what we're saying is we have to bring spending to a more sustainable rate of growth. And we can't keep spending at the pace we are on, otherwise we will have a debt crisis.

CURRY: Do you acknowledge that poor people will suffer...

RYAN: No.

CURRY: ...under his budget?

RYAN: No.

CURRY: That you have shown a lack of empathy to poor people in this budget?

RYAN: Quite the contrary. Our poverty rates are the highest they've been in a generation. One out of six people are in poverty today. The President's policies are not working and we're advancing pro-growth policies to get people off of welfare on to work. What we want to do is replicate those successful strategies that worked in the late '90s, that were not applied to these other welfare programs, to get people on to lives of self-sufficiency, from welfare to work. And we're proposing reforms and transitions that do that. We just don't agree that throwing more money at failed programs works. We want to reform these programs so that they actually achieve the result of getting people on their lives of self-sufficiency.

CURRY: I could talk to you some more, but I'm out of time. Congressman Paul Ryan, a pleasure to speak to you in person.

RYAN: Thank you, Ann.

CURRY: Thank you.

Kyle Drennen
Kyle Drennen
Kyle Drennen is a News Analyst for MRC