The House GOP caucus plans to work on entitlement reform next year as a way to "tackle the debt and the deficit," according to House Speaker Paul Ryan.
Speaking to Ross Kaminsky on his talk radio show , the Wisconsin Republican said Wednesday that the House would be working to reform health care entitlements in 2018, calling them "the big drivers of our debt," during a discussion about the Republican tax bill.
"Tax reform grows the economy," Ryan said. "So we basically planned in this term three big budget bills: two entitlement reform bills, one economic growth tax reform bill. The first one passed the House, failed the Senate, this one, both tax bills have passed the House and the Senate, we're on track with that, and then next year we're going to have to get back at entitlement reform."
Ryan specifically mentioned Medicare as being the "biggest entitlement that's got to have reform."
"Really, what it is is we need to convert our health care system to a patient-centered system, so that people have more choices, we have more competition," Ryan later said.
Ryan also noted that, in addition to health care, the GOP plans to work on reforming the US welfare system.
"We think it's important to get people from welfare to work," Ryan said. "We have a welfare system that's basically trapping people in poverty and effectively paying people not to work, and we've got to work on that."
Independent Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders responded to Ryan's comments critically on Twitter, arguing that the Republican Party planned to pay for its tax bill with cuts to entitlements.
"There it is. Paul Ryan just admitted that after providing $1 trillion in tax breaks to the top 1% and large corporations, Republicans will try to cut Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and help for the most vulnerable Americans," Sanders wrote.