WASHINGTON (AP) -- New House Speaker Paul Ryan is calling for tough work requirements and cuts to safety net programs as he sketches a vision for congressional Republicans for 2017 and beyond.
In a speech Thursday that his staff is billing as his first major address, the Wisconsin Republican who took over the House gavel just over a month ago says Republicans must go beyond trying to undo President Barack Obama's agenda, "as if we could time-travel back to 2009."
Speaking even as the Senate debates the latest repeal of Obama's health law, Ryan says: "We owe it to the country to offer a bold, pro-growth agenda. And that is what we are going to do."
Excerpts released by his office ahead of the speech were short on specifics. But Ryan has made clear that he has no desire to hang back and play a supporting role to the GOP's presidential nominee next year. And the former House Budget Committee chairman who's proposed slashing Medicaid and converting Medicare into a voucher-like program hinted at fresh assaults on federal programs — positions that are likely to provide election-year ammunition to Democrats.
"In 1996, we created a work requirement for welfare. But that was just one program. We have to fix all the others now," Ryan says. "I'd combine a lot of them and send that money back to the states for better poverty-fighting solutions. Require everyone who can, to work."
Ryan also makes clear he is more interested in promulgating a GOP vision than in finding common ground with Obama.
"Even if he won't sign them into law, we will put out specific proposals and give the people a real choice," Ryan said.
The Wisconsin Republican replaced former House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio after Boehner resigned under pressure from conservatives in the House. Thus far Ryan still seems to be enjoying a honeymoon but that will be tested by a Dec. 11 deadline to pass a package of spending bills or face a partial government shutdown.