Paul Ryan: ‘I don’t think that the president actually thinks we have a fiscal crisis’

Ryan (NBC)

Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan lashed out at President Barack Obama on Sunday, saying the commander in chief does not have a full grasp of the budget problems facing the U.S. economy.

"I don't think that the president actually thinks we have a fiscal crisis," Ryan said on NBC's "Meet The Press" in his first live interview since the 2012 presidential campaign, when he was Mitt Romney's running mate. "He's been reportedly saying to our leaders that we don't have a spending problem, we have a health-care problem. That leads me to conclude that he just thinks we ought to have more government-run health care and rationing."

Ryan, the House Budget Committee chairman, told David Gregory that while Democrats may have gotten higher taxes on the wealthy as part of the New Year's deal to avoid the fiscal cliff, that's all they'll get.

"The president got his additional revenues," Ryan said. "So that's behind us."

He added, "Are we for raising revenues? No we're not. If you keep raising revenues, you're not going to get decent tax reform."

Ryan also offered outgoing Secretary of State Hillary Clinton a compliment while bashing Obama.

"Look, if we had a Clinton presidency, if we had Erskine Bowles, chief staff of the White House or president of the United States, I think we would have fixed this fiscal mess by now," Ryan said. "That's not the kind of presidency we're dealing with."

The former vice presidential candidate also addressed a pair of politically divisive issues: immigration reform and gun control.

"It's a system that's broken that needs fixing," Ryan said of current U.S. immigration laws. "Look, immigration's a good thing. We're here because of immigration. That's what America is. It's a melting pot. We think this is good. We need to make sure that it works."

On gun control, Ryan said he was open to universal background checks, but stopped short of embracing a ban on assault weapons. "Let's go beyond just this debate and make sure we get deeper," he said. "What's our policy on mental illness? What's going on in our culture that produces this kind of thing?"

And as far as his political aspirations for 2016 are concerned, Ryan said it's too early for him to talk about. "I think it's just premature. I've got an important job to do," Ryan said. "I'll decide later about that."

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