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Republican Ryan vows to cut spending and debt

By Thomas Ferraro and Donna Smith

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Americans are justifiably skeptical of members of both political parties, particularly when it comes to spending, House of Representatives Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan said on Tuesday.

In giving the Republican response to President Barack Obama's State of the Union speech, Ryan vowed to draft a budget this year that shows his party plans to "do things differently" and cut spending, reduce the U.S. debt and create jobs.

Ryan said that U.S. voters, who gave Republicans control of the House in the November election, are fed up with what they see as excessive government and a mounting federal debt.

"Americans are skeptical of both political parties, and that skepticism is justified, especially when it comes to spending," said Ryan. "So hold all of us accountable.

Ryan, 40, a rising star in the Republican Party, saluted Obama for focusing much of his speech on fiscal matters, including the U.S. deficit and debt.

"He was right to do so, and some of his words were reassuring," said Ryan.

Sitting in the House Budget Committee hearing room, Ryan said, "I assure you that we want to work with the president to restrain federal spending."

Ryan and his fellow Republicans, however, want to cut spending deeper and quicker than Obama and his fellow Democrats do, and there are certain to be plenty of fights.

The budget chairman acknowledged: "Our debt is the product of acts by many presidents and many Congresses over many years. No one person or party is responsible for it."

"There is no doubt the president came into office facing a severe fiscal and economic situation," Ryan said.

"Unfortunately, instead of restoring the fundamentals of economic growth, he engaged in a stimulus spending spree that not only failed to deliver on its promise to create jobs, but also plunged us even deeper into debt."

"TIPPING POINT"

With the federal debt topping $14 trillion and Congress and the White House still seeking common ground on how to reduce it, Ryan said "Our nation is approaching a tipping point."

Amid some division within Republican ranks over how deep to cut spending, Ryan wasn't the only party member to deliver a nationally broadcast response to Obama's speech.

So did Representative Michele Bachmann, a leading figure in the anti-establishment Tea Party movement that helped Republicans win the House from Democrats last year.

The Tea Party Express, one of the most aggressive groups in the movement, invited Bachmann to speak.

"I'm here at their request and not to compete with the official Republican remarks," Bachmann said.

Bachmann ripped into Obama, saying the president rejected pleas during his first two years in office to curb spending.

In a comment apparently aimed at fellow Tea Partiers, Bachmann said, "Thanks to you, there's reason to hope that real spending cuts are coming."

(Editing by Eric Walsh and Doina Chiacu)

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