Concurrent Resolution on the Budget for Fiscal Year 2012

Floor Speech

By:  Paul Ryan
Date: April 15, 2011
Location: Washington, DC


Mr. RYAN of Wisconsin. Mr. Chairman, I yield myself 2 minutes.

First of all, I want to start off by commending Mr. Van Hollen. It's not always that the minority offers an alternative budget. In fact, I know there are a lot of pressures not to do that. So I think Mr. Van Hollen is to be commended, and his very capable staff, for actually proposing an alternative. That's important. It's important that we bring ideas to the table so we can have a real debate about ideas. I want to start with saying that.

Number two, we just have a different definition of ``fiscal responsibility,'' I suppose. This budget, relative to the mark, to the base budget we're talking about, increases spending by $4.5 trillion, raises taxes by $2 trillion, and it adds $2.4 trillion to the deficit compared to the base bill we're talking about here.

It does exceed the President's budget in debt reduction, in deficit reduction, and so the gentleman is to be commended for that, but I personally think the President's budget is a pretty low water mark. It exceeds it by raising taxes another $210 billion and also cutting defense by $614 billion above the cuts that are in the base, our budget, and in the President's budget.

Secretary Gates has warned us that such cuts would leave the military unable to meet its current missions. And using his words: ``Setting indiscriminate targets to scrimp on defense is math, not strategy.''

I think it's very important that we recognize our priorities. Number one, national defense is the primary responsibility of the Federal Government. When our war fighters tell us this doesn't allow them to have the tools to keep them safe, the equipment they need to prosecute their jobs, I think that's not responsible.

When our economy is struggling to get out of a very deep recession, over $2 trillion in tax increases I just don't think is responsible.

On the alternative, I think what we are offering is responsible. Our budget does four basic things. It gets the economy growing. It keeps taxes where they are and prevents massive tax increases. It saves our Medicare and Medicaid programs. It fulfills the mission of health and retirement security for all Americans by guaranteeing that people who have retired and are about to retire keep what they have, what they have organized their lives around, and then reforms these programs so that they're solvent and sustainable for the next generation. Number three, it repairs our social safety net so that it works. And it, number four, pays off our debt. That's what we do.

I reserve the balance of my time.


Mr. RYAN of Wisconsin. I yield myself 2 minutes.

Mr. Chairman, let's talk about Medicare for a moment. It's not as if we don't have a problem. We know Medicare is going broke in 9 years. We want to make sure that the people who have retired and who are 10 years away from retiring can bank on the promises that have been made for them.

But to keep that promise, we have to reform it and save it for the next generation. So that's why we have a plan that says for people 54 and below, you too will have a plan of guaranteed Medicare coverage from guaranteed Medicare plans that you get to choose from. Choice and competition works.

A prescription drug benefit, a bunch of plans that compete against each other for the seniors' business, came in 41 percent below cost projections. Why? Because it's not a government-run program. It's not a bunch of bureaucrats.

What is the President proposing? What are the Democrats proposing? Here's what they have proposed for current seniors. The President just gave us a glimpse of it 2 days ago. He wants to take this board of 15 people he appoints on this rationing board, and they make the decisions. They price-control Medicare. They ration Medicare, $480 billion, almost $10,000 per senior on current seniors.

We are saying, don't do this to seniors, get rid of the rationing board and don't delegate Medicare decision-making to 15 people appointed by the President with no congressional oversight. Let the 40 million seniors in Medicare be in charge of their Medicare program. More importantly, we save Medicare, prevent its bankruptcy.

What does the other side do? They sit by and watch the program go bankrupt.

I reserve the balance of my time.


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

First, let me start off by saying that the only way the word ``oil'' is mentioned in this budget--it is not in the Tax Code--it is that we want to drill for more of it in this country so we can lower gas prices and get ourselves off foreign oil.

Let me address Medicare briefly. I have here the Federal Employee Benefit Handbook that everybody in Congress, every Federal employee has. Nowhere in this book does it say voucher. Look at all of these plans we get to choose from: Kaiser, Aetna, Humana, Blue Cross/Blue Shield, Coventry, pages and pages of choices and options. This is what we're talking about for people 54 and below.

Guess what, the biggest threat to Medicare is the status quo. Medicare goes bankrupt in 9 years. And so, is this exactly like the Federal employee health plan? No, it is not. It is the same kind of plan because what we say is in the future, people who are wealthy don't need as much of a subsidy. People who are sick need more, people who are low-income need more, and they get complete out-of-pocket coverage. More for the sick, more for the poor, less for the wealthy, and a solvent Medicare system.

But more importantly, the people choose. Medicare beneficiaries choose. What's the President's plan? What's the Democrats' plan? Appoint 15 people to do the choosing. It is a different philosophy. Should we have 15 unelected bureaucrats run Medicare, ration Medicare, or should we allow 40 million to 50 million seniors make the decision?

Let's talk about taxes. Look at all of these budgets we've been looking at today. By the way, our budget doesn't even cut taxes. I wish I could say it does. Revenues still rise, about $12 trillion under this budget. We just don't want to go up and up and up.

The budget we have here is a $2 trillion tax increase; the plan we had before, the Progressive plan, a $16 trillion tax increase; the Congressional Black Caucus budget, a $6 trillion tax increase.

This budget cuts defense $619 billion; the Progressive budget, $1.2 trillion; the CBC budget cuts defense $469 billion.

The CBC budget increases spending on domestic spending $4.1 trillion. The Progressive Caucus increases domestic spending $11.4 trillion. The Democratic budget increases, relative to the mark, $4.6 trillion.

So we've got it. We know where they are. More spending. More spending on everything, but cut and gut defense, and raise taxes a lot.


Mr. RYAN of Wisconsin. I yield myself the remainder of my time.

First of all, Mr. Chairman, I want to thank our staffs, the Democratic staff and the Republican staff, for all of their hard work in getting us to this moment.

I want to ask my colleagues a question. I want to ask the American people a question. I remember one of the worst moments I had in Congress was the financial crisis of 2008. It seems like it was yesterday. We had the Treasury Secretary and we had the Federal Reserve chairman coming here talking about crisis and talking about bank collapses. And what came out of that was really ugly legislation that we passed on a bipartisan basis but no one enjoyed. That crisis caught us by surprise. It was unpredictable. We didn't see it coming.

Let me ask you this. What if your President and your Member of Congress saw it coming? What if they knew why it was happening, when it was going to happen, and more importantly, they knew what to do to stop it and they had time to stop it, but they didn't? Because of politics? What would you think of that person?

Mr. Chairman, that is where we are right now.

This is the most predictable economic crisis we've

ever had in the history of this country. Yet we have a President who is unwilling to lead. We have too many politicians worried about the next election and not worried about the next generation. Every politician in this town knows we have a debt crisis. They know that we are in danger.

We cannot avoid this choice. To govern is to choose. We are making a choice even if we don't act. And that's the wrong choice. In the words of Abraham Lincoln, we cannot escape history. We of this Congress and this administration will be remembered in spite of ourselves. Will we be remembered as the Congress that did nothing as the Nation sped toward a preventable debt crisis and irreversible decline? Or will we instead be remembered as a Congress that did the hard work of preventing that crisis, the one that chose this Path to Prosperity? This Path to Prosperity charts a different course. It gets us off this wrong track.

It achieves four objectives:

Number one, grow the economy and get people back to work.

Number two, fulfill the mission of health and retirement security. We don't want to ration Medicare. We don't want to see Medicare go bankrupt. We want to save Medicare.

Number three, repair the social safety net. Get it ready for the 21st century. We don't want a welfare system that encourages people to stay on welfare. We want them to get back on their feet and into flourishing, self-sufficient lives. So let's reform welfare for people who need it, and let's end corporate welfare for people who don't need it.

Number four, let's do the work of lifting this crushing burden of debt from our children.

This is what we achieve. We have a choice of two futures, but we have to make the right choice. We must not leave this Nation in decline. We must not be the first generation of this country to leave the next generation worse off. Decline is antithetical to the American idea. America is a Nation conceived in liberty, dedicated to equality and defined by limitless opportunity. Equal opportunity, upward mobility, prosperity; this is what America is all about.

In all the chapters of human history, there has never been anything quite like America. This budget keeps America exceptional. It preserves its promise for the next generation. Colleagues, this is our defining moment. We must choose this Path to Prosperity.

I yield back the balance of my time.


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