Paul Ryan is already giving up on his biggest goal for 2018

Paul Ryan. Win McNamee/Getty Images

  • House Speaker Paul Ryan has long wanted to enact entitlement reforms through cuts to Medicaid, Medicare, and Social Security.
  • Ryan said in December that he wanted to tackle the issue in 2018.
  • On Friday, Ryan admitted that these programs would not see changes in the upcoming legislative year.

House Speaker Paul Ryan on Friday admitted that his biggest “wish list” item isn’t likely to happen in 2018.

Ryan has long wanted to enact reforms to entitlement programs – which usually takes the form of cuts to Medicaid, Medicare, and Social Security. But at an event in Wisconsin on Friday, he said entitlements wouldn’t be addressed by Congress this year.

“I don’t see us tackling it this year,” Ryan said.

Ryan said throughout December that he was hoping to get entitlement reform done in 2018, but there was little appetite from other Republican leaders and President Donald Trump heading into a midterm election year.

The Wisconsin Republican said the GOP’s slim 51-to-49 majority in the Senate prevents any significant overhaul because Democrats are not on board and could filibuster any cuts. Also, Ryan said, any bill dealing with Social Security can’t go through the process of budget reconciliation, which allows a bill to pass the chamber with a simple majority.

Given that reality, Ryan said Democrats have to be on board with any changes to the three major programs.

“No matter what you do you’re going to have to find bipartisan consensus to fix these thorny, long-term problems, and we don’t have that right now,” Ryan said.

In addition to the tricky congressional calculus, Trump promised during the 2016 presidential election that there would be no cuts to the programs. He was hesitant to support entitlement reform measure during a press conference with Republican leaders at their Camp David policy summit.

Ryan said that while the issue won’t be addressed in the short-term, he stressed the need to address them in the future because they are “going bankrupt,” a characterization disputed by some policy experts.

“I would like to find a way – and I don’t know what exactly that’s going to be – how do we get bipartisan consensus to fix these looming, debt problems we’ve got on the horizon,” Ryan said.