Paul Ryan: 'We are hosed' if we don't tackle entitlements like Medicare

Story highlights

  • House Speaker Paul Ryan has long held the position that he wants to rein in entitlements
  • He said President Donald Trump has talked to him about the issue

Washington (CNN)President Donald Trump ran on a vow to not cut benefits for Medicare, but House Speaker Paul Ryan said he thinks that is still an "open question."

"From all my conversations with the President, he says 'I don't want to change Medicare benefits for people in or near retirement,' and we agree with that," the Wisconsin Republican told reporters in his Capitol suite Tuesday morning.
That's different from what the President has said publicly, and Trump's promises not to slash benefits have been sweeping.
    During the 2016 Republican primary campaign, for example, Trump boasted about his position, arguing GOP competitors were following him.
    "I was the first & only potential GOP candidate to state there will be no cuts to Social Security, Medicare & Medicaid," he tweeted.
    Ryan has long pushed for reforming Medicare to keep that system solvent, but he also argues strongly changing the big ticket entitlement is the only way to really rein in deficit spending.
    "I've been a big time entitlement reformer for a long time because if you don't start bending the curve in the out years, we are hosed," Ryan said bluntly Tuesday morning.
    In the short term, the one entitlement Republicans are planning on changing is Obamacare, the signature health care law from Trump's predecessor. Coalescing around a GOP plan to do that continues to be a challenge.
    Still, GOP congressional sources say they expect Trump to embrace concepts they have been outlining -- ideas Ryan along with Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price, a former congressman, have been pushing for years: High risk pools to cover people with pre-existing conditions, along with tax credits and health savings accounts to help pay for coverage.
    "He's going to be very helpful," Ryan said of what the President will say about health care in his address to Congress on Tuesday night.
    "We talked about this at great length yesterday he's going to be helpful," Ryan said.