Paul Ryan slammed President Obama for scheduled defense cuts on Tuesday, despite voting for the bill that created them and playing an instrumental role in selling it to skeptical Republicans.
The cuts, which were part of last year’s debt-ceiling deal, are set to take effect Jan. 1, 2013, because Congress failed to reach an agreement on alternative savings. Both Obama and Ryan say that the GOP’s refusal to put tax increases on the table are what’s driving the standoff.
“It’s either lose defense-related jobs in Pennsylvania or put small businesses further at a competitive disadvantage,” Ryan said on Tuesday at a helicopter museum in West Chester, Pa. “I got a good idea — why don’t we take away President Obama’s job and create jobs for everybody no matter what industry they are in?”
Ryan said that “almost 44,000 jobs” are at stake if the cuts go through, breaking with his usual small-government argument that federal spending does not spur employment.
Despite Ryan’s new attack, he not only voted for the bill containing the cuts, he went out of his way to tout just how difficult it is to undo them.
“What conservatives like me have been fighting for, for years, are statutory caps on spending, legal caps in law that says government agencies cannot spend over a set amount of money,” Ryan told FOX News’s Sean Hannity shortly after the agreement was reached last August. “And if they breach that amount across the board, sequester comes in to cut that spending, and you can’t turn that off without a super-majority vote. We got that in law.”
Like many Republicans who publicly praised the deal’s passage, Ryan has since joined in condemning the cuts and blaming Democrats for the bill they signed onto.
Even before the final bill, Ryan expressed willingness to put defense cuts on the table in order to bring down government spending.
“You can’t throw $700 billion at a government agency and not expect waste to occur,” Ryan said in January 2011.
It’s not the first time Ryan has attacked his own legislation on the trail in recent weeks. After including $716 billion in Medicare savings in his previous two House budgets, he now routinely condemns the cuts as a devastating blow to seniors in campaign speeches.
The Obama campaign accused Ryan of hypocrisy given his close association with the legislation.
“Rep. Ryan voted for and praised the Budget Control Act,” Obama campaign spokesman Danny Kanner said in a statement Tuesday. “Instead of making misleading attacks on the president, he should tell his fellow congressional Republicans and Mitt Romney to drop their refusal to ask for a single penny from millionaires and billionaires, and work with the president to achieve balanced deficit reduction to avoid these cuts he voted for and is now using to score a political point.”