GOP's Paul Ryan: White House officials 'don't talk to us'
Rep. Paul Ryan, soon to be House Budget Committee chairman, said he had no idea whether members of the White House were taking the national debt seriously, because he has little contact with them.
Congressman Ryan, a member of the presidentâ€™s bipartisan debt commission and soon to be House Budget Committee chairman, was asked if President Obama and his administration share the view of some on the left that the talk about a federal debt crisis is overblown.
â€śI donâ€™t know, they donâ€™t talk to us,â€ť said Ryan, speaking to reporters at a Monitor-sponsored breakfast for reporters Thursday. â€śSo I donâ€™t know what they think. Iâ€™ve talked to the president and [Treasury Secretary] Tim Geithner since November and thatâ€™s the only person Iâ€™ve talked to.â€ť
Still, there has been at least some communication between the White House and Capitol Hill Republicans since Mr. Obama took office early last year. Ryan described regular contact with various figures who have all now left the White House or will leave soon, including former budget director Peter Orszag, former chief of staff Rahm Emanuel, and top economic adviser Larry Summers, who leaves at the end of the year.
Some of those relationships were formed during their days together on the Hill.
â€śWe knew Orszag pretty well,â€ť because he had previously been head of the Congressional Budget Office, Ryan said. â€śAnd we knew Rahm because he served with us. And I was on [the House] Ways and Means [Committee] with Rahm. And we talked to Larry [Summers] every now and then.... But those guys are gone.â€ť
Ryan said heâ€™s trying to set up a dinner with the new budget director, Jack Lew.
â€śWe called over there last week to see if we can get dinner and get to know him a little bit,â€ť Ryan said. â€śIâ€™d like to get to know him like I knew Orszag. I think itâ€™s helpful to know each other. But I donâ€™t know what theyâ€™re thinking, I really donâ€™t.â€ť
Ryan said the low level of communication in the current, soon-to-be departing Congress wasnâ€™t a â€śmean thing.â€ť It was that â€śthey didnâ€™t need us,â€ť Ryan added, referring to the Democratsâ€™ large majorities in both houses. â€śThey didnâ€™t want us in the last session. So they didnâ€™t talk to us.â€ť