By Congressman Jeb Hensarling and Congressman Paul Ryan
Published by The Washington Examiner, on June 24, 2010.
Our dire fiscal and economic challenges -- coupled with Washington's insistence on making matters worse -- are no excuse for retreat or despair. They are cause for inspiration and determination.
The stakes of the debt debate present not only a challenge -- but also a once-in-a-generation opportunity to reclaim the promise and prosperity of this great nation. By acting now, a debt crisis can be averted by reforming government on our own terms.
Americans need not suffer from painful austerity plans imposed from lenders abroad. Instead, we can put in place a prosperity plan that recommits government to its proper role and rejuvenates the vibrant market economy that made America the envy of the world.
For years, we've been heading down an unsustainable path -- as politicians in both parties insisted on making promises that simply could not be kept. To make good on our promises and set our nation on a sustainable path, we initially offered -- during the past administration -- "A Roadmap for America's Future."
The road map is a comprehensive legislative proposal with reforms to fulfill the mission of health and retirement security, pay off our crushing burden of debt, and spur economic growth and job creation.
The road map is a real plan, with real numbers to back it up, and real legislation to implement it. It secures the following key objectives:
* Providing health and retirement security: The road map preserves our entitlement programs as structured for Americans 55 and older, while making critical reforms for future beneficiaries so that we can sustain and strengthen the nation's health and retirement safety net. Our plan ensures universal access to health insurance, fulfills the missions of Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security, and makes these programs permanently solvent.
* Lifting the debt burden: The road map brings federal spending to sustainable levels and lifts the crushing burden of debt.
* Promoting job creation and economic growth: The road map spurs sustained economic and job growth by simplifying our tax code and putting the United States in a position to lead -- not merely survive -- in the international marketplace.
The road map remains the only legislative proposal confirmed by the Congressional Budget Office and government actuaries as tackling the debt threat and restoring solvency to our entitlement programs. It was our hope that by offering a solution to our looming debt crisis, those who disagreed with our approach would offer ideas of their own.
Regrettably Washington's partisans have countered with political attacks rather than viable alternatives.
Continued inaction in the face of a debt crisis is dangerous. Yet our optimism persists.
This is not a Democratic or Republican problem. It is an American problem and we're confident that the American people will not fall prey to the demagoguery that has for too long paralyzed progress on entitlement reform. Citizens of this country deserve to be spoken to like adults, not children.
To those eager to attack our solutions: Come armed with your own.
This is more than a battle of ideas. It is a battle for an idea: the American Idea.
Do we want an opportunity society with limitless growth and a sturdy safety net for those that truly need it -- or -- do we want a stagnant cradle-to-grave European welfare state? The European model is not only mathematically unsustainable, but also an affront to our founding principles -- limited government, individual liberty, self-determination -- principles that have made us the freest, most prosperous nation in the history of mankind.
We must reapply those founding principles to the challenges of the day. We must not back down from this fight if we are to reclaim the promise of our exceptional nation, and continue that great American tradition of giving the next generation greater opportunities and a brighter future.