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Public Statements

Concurrent Resolution on the Budget for Fiscal Year 2015

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. RYAN of Wisconsin. Mr. Chairman, I yield myself 5 minutes.

Well, here we are, Mr. Chairman, resuming the debate we left off yesterday. Let me try and give a summary of what this is all about.

This is all about getting our fiscal house in order. This is all about prioritizing hardworking taxpayer dollars. This is all about doing in our generation what we need to do to make sure that the next generation has a secure future and a debt-free future. So that is why we are bringing a budget to the floor, that is why we are making those difficult decisions, and that is why we are advocating for these important reforms.

In much of the 20th century, a lot of programs were created, and a lot of laudable goals were established. But now in the 21st century, I think we have learned a thing or two about how we can better accomplish and achieve some of these goals such as health and retirement security, because the way these programs were designed nearly a generation ago, they are now going into bankruptcy in this generation.

If we allow that to happen, then we will pull out from underneath those who depend on these programs for their health and retirement security, we will renege on that social contract. More to the point, we are going to do damage to our economy if we keep this deficit and debt going on its current course.

We asked the Congressional Budget Office to take a look at the kind of deficit and debt reduction that we are proposing and tell us over the long period, over the course of this budget, what does that do for America and for our economy? And they tell us that getting your economic and fiscal house in order, reducing the deficit and balancing the budget so that you can begin paying off the debt is good for economic growth. In fact, it will increase economic output by 1.8 percentage points. That is actually a lot.

What does that mean to every person in America? About $1,100 in more take-home pay and in higher income because we did our jobs here. But, more importantly, what it means for the next generation is, instead of sending our bills to them to work hard, to pay their taxes to pay off our bills and then they have to start working for themselves, we are going to give them a better future. Because we know right now--the CBO tells us as much--they are going to inherit a diminished future. That is point number one.

Point number two is that we have got to stop spending money we don't have. We will hear all of these arguments about the draconian cuts and the slashing and all of this. These are the same arguments we have heard time and again. And when those arguments have prevailed, they have brought us to where we are today: extraordinarily high deficits, deficits going back to $1 trillion by the end of this budget period, and a debt that is about to take off. If we don't get this under control, then we will not have the kind of economy that the people of this country deserve.

We don't want Washington to stand in the way of people's success. We want Washington to play its rightful supporting role so that people can become successful. We believe in a system of natural rights and equality of opportunity so people can make the most of their lives. We don't believe in a system where government thinks that they must take this commanding role within the middle of people's lives that ends up bankrupting this country, diminishing the future, and lowering economic growth and prosperity. There is a big difference in approaches. We want to tackle these challenges.

What I also want to say is that we have an important obligation to secure this country and protect our national defense. America, like it or not, is the superpower nation in the world and a duty that falls upon us to take that responsibility seriously. With that responsibility also comes the ability to chart our own course in the world, to help preserve the peace, and to help pave the way for prosperity so that we can have economic opportunity and so that we can advance our views and our values and the protection of individual and human rights and democracy.

These things are good for America. A strong America and a strong military helps make for a peaceful America and a prosperous America.

So we need to take the needed reforms to make sure that these critical retirement programs are there, not only intact for people in and near retirement, but there for those of us who are younger when we hope to retire. We need to get our spending under control so we can balance our budget and pay off our debt. We need to enact pro-growth economic reform like tax reform and economic development to create jobs today.


Mr. RYAN of Wisconsin. I yield myself an additional 15 seconds.

At the end of the day, instead of growing government spending at 5.2 percent, which is the trend, we are proposing to grow it at 3.5 percent over the next 10 years. Hardly draconian.


Mr. RYAN of Wisconsin. Wow, that is a doozy, I have got to tell you. That is a doozy if that kind of people get elected.

Look, we just think we should balance the budget, have government live within its means, and pay off our debt. If those kinds of people get elected, great.


Mr. RYAN of Wisconsin. I yield myself 30 seconds to say, boy, I wonder what tax bill they are talking about, because it is not the one that is within the Republican budget. The Ways and Means Committee writes tax laws. We put out the outlines of tax reform that say there is a trillion dollars a year of tax expenditures, of loopholes that can be closed to give us a fairer, simpler Tax Code, that lowers taxes for everybody, all families and businesses, not whatever it is they are saying.


Mr. RYAN of Wisconsin. I yield myself an extra 30 seconds.

What we are saying is, keep the award where it is, the maximum award, and fully funded for the decade. That is slashing it?

That is as opposed to the President who is saying let's grow it and then have some cliff and show no way or means of paying for it. The President and his budget is making a promise in Pell grants that he shows no way of keeping. We think we should make a promise and keep it; that is why we fully fund the current award at Pell.

And, oh, by the way, we also are cognizant of the fact that a lot of studies show us we are raising tuition. We are contributing to tuition inflation. And we need to get to the bottom of that before we keeping throwing more money at a system that is raising tuition.


Mr. RYAN of Wisconsin. Mr. Chairman, yesterday, I was Dracula; now I am conducting a parade of horribles and firing heat-seeking missiles at the American people. I am interested to see what comes next.


Mr. RYAN of Wisconsin. Mr. Chairman, when we call for ``revenue neutral tax reform,'' that means tax reform that keeps raising the same amount of revenue we raise today, do it through a better Tax Code so we are not picking winners and losers, so we can grow the economy and create jobs.


Mr. RYAN of Wisconsin. Mr. Chairman, apparently, a strong budget means we need to borrow more from the Chinese to fund our government.


Mr. RYAN of Wisconsin. Mr. Chairman, I yield myself the balance of my time.

Let me try and translate for the viewer what is happening here.

Every time you hear the word ``invest,'' that means take from hardworking taxpayers and spend in Washington; and then when that is not enough, ``invest'' means borrow--nearly half of which is from other countries--from the next generation and spend in Washington.

Just so you know, when they keep saying invest, invest, invest, or you are not investing enough, disinvest, it means tax, borrow, and spend here in Washington, as if we know better how people should spend their money.

The analysis we hear about jobs lost and how this isn't going to work and it is going to cost all these jobs is the same analysis that said the stimulus was going to be a boon. It is the same analysis they said that if we just borrow and spend $780 billion in Washington on shovel-ready jobs, unemployment will never reach 10 percent and we will create millions of new jobs. It didn't work.

It all comes down to this. Rather than prioritize our spending, rather than holding the Federal Government accountable and more transparent to make sure that taxpayer dollars are being spent wisely and prudently, rather than balancing the budget and paying off debts so the next generation has a debt-free inheritance, rather than taking on the bloated Tax Code that is mired with special interest giveaways and tax breaks and loopholes, rather than opening up this incredible store of oil and gas that could give us a huge renaissance of more jobs and lower gas and home heating prices and a better foreign policy, rather than preserving our military and giving our troops what they need, rather than growing our economy and creating what is estimated by the CBO to give each person an average of $1,100 more in take-home pay because of that faster economic growth, rather than doing any of that, just do more of the same. Stick with the status quo.

That is what this rhetoric is. It is a straw man argument. It is basically an argument that says let's affix certain views to our opponents so that we can defeat these awful views that we say they have and win the debate by default so that we can stick with the status quo and keep doing more of the same.

Mr. Chairman, here is where we are headed. This debt, this red line is the status quo. This is where America is going. It is not a Republican or a Democrat thing. It is a math thing.

What we are saying with this budget is, the status quo isn't working. We can't do more of the same because we are headed in the wrong direction. Everybody in this country knows this.

This is our plan. It is actually a plan. Pay off the debt, grow jobs, and challenge the status quo. And that is why I urge adoption of this budget.


Mr. RYAN of Wisconsin. I thank the gentleman. And I also want to thank the CBC for offering a budget. I think that is what is important that is happening here, people are coming to the floor of Congress offering their ideas, offering their solutions.

One of the things that they are so clearly concerned about, that they have their method of dealing with in the budget is, what do you do about poverty. This is something that we are also deeply concerned about.

A year ago we decided to look at our strategies from the Federal Government's perspective on fighting poverty because, after all, we are in the 50th year, the 50th anniversary of the so-called War on Poverty.

We wanted to say, is there a good accounting of all those Federal poverty programs that we can look at to see if they are working well, if they need updating, because, after all, they were put in place largely in the mid- to late part of the 20th century.

No such accounting occurred. So we spent the last year looking through all these programs, looking at all the audits and the Government Accountability Office reports and the inspector general reports and outside academics' opinions of these things. We took it all together, and we realized that the Federal Government has nearly 100 programs aimed at fighting poverty, spending about $800 billion a year doing so.

And look at the results. We have the highest poverty rate in a generation. Deep poverty is the highest, on record. Forty-six million people are living in poverty.

So we are asking ourselves, does one more program from the Department of Health and Human Services, is that going to do the trick all of a sudden?

It is not working. So our concern is that we have moved from a war on eradicating poverty to simply treating the symptoms of poverty to make it more tolerable, to manage poverty.

We are measuring our success--and this is how this debate always goes--based upon how much money we throw at programs, based on inputs, not based on outcomes.

How many people are we truly getting out of poverty?

As we look at these programs, the best thing we should do is go and listen to people who are fighting poverty; go listen to people who have successfully fought poverty.

I got up real early Monday morning in Martindale-Brightwood--it is a low-income neighborhood in Indianapolis, Indiana--to learn from people who are successfully fighting poverty, who are really doing amazing things, seeing potential and great lives realizing their potential.

We can learn a lot by getting out of this town, by finding out what works, and getting behind them and helping make sure what works continues.

But if we suffocate this debate with more one-size-fits-all, with more Washington knows best, with one more program, you know, the 93rd one is going to be the charm, then we are not going to get at the root cause of the problem.

The goal here is to get at the root cause of poverty to break the cycle of poverty, so I think there is a lot we all need to learn about this.

Hopefully, what we are accomplishing here, in our budget, is letting people who are closer to the problem have a little more flexibility, a little more discretion, so that they can customize and tailor solutions to meet the unique and particular needs of the people in their communities who are actually striving and fighting poverty.

One more point. When we stack all these programs on top of each other, we have done something inadvertently in this government, and that is, we have built barriers toward self-sufficiency. We have made it harder for a rational person to leave benefits and go into work because they lose more when they do that.

We have got tax rates, single moms making less than $40,000 a year with kids that are, like, 80 percent, meaning, you go to work, you lose more in benefits than you gain going to work. We have got to do something about that. That should not be a Republican, Democrat thing. That is just plain old economics.

So I think we need to rethink our approach, and not measure based on inputs, not measure based on how much money we can throw at programs, but measure based on what is working, who is doing a good job, how can we support them, how can we learn and listen from them.

Oh, and why don't we start measuring success based on outcomes?

That is what we are trying to achieve.

We have got a long ways to go, but I hope that that is the kind of conversation we can get to.


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