Outgoing House Speaker Paul Ryan said Thursday that the ballooning national debt is his biggest regret. In an interview with The Washington Post, Ryan named the debt and immigration as the two issues he wished the Republican-led Congress had been able to address.
“Debt and immigration are the two big issues that, if we get right in this country, we will have a great 21st century,” he said, adding that “health care entitlements — aging of baby boomers, health care inflation — that is the driver of the debt that’s got to get dealt with.”
At the same time, Ryan again defended the tax overhaul his party passed last year, which the Congressional Budget Office has projected will add a total of $1.9 trillion to deficits through 2028.
“I think history is going to be very good to this [Republican] majority,” Ryan said. “Why? The tax system was atrocious. … We really did have the worst tax system in the industrialized world and it was hollowing out American competitiveness. We have now put underneath the economy a far, far stronger foundation for a healthy economy and growth because of that. I was extremely worried about our national security posture, meaning our military, and we have now put underneath that a much stronger foundation.”
But Business Insider’s Bob Bryan notes that legislation passed under Ryan’s speakership has added substantially to deficits and debt, and is projected to continue to do so: “According to the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, 46% of the fiscal year 2019 deficit will be derived from legislation passed since Trump took office. Of that, $228 billion comes from the GOP tax law — which Ryan cited as one of his major accomplishments — and $188 billion comes from the bipartisan budget agreement.”