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Public Statements

Cut, Cap, and Balance Act of 2011

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC

Mr. RYAN of Wisconsin. Mr. Speaker, here's our problem. We have a crushing burden of debt that is coming to hit our economy. This is what it all comes down to. We are driving our country and our economy off of a cliff. The reason is because we are spending so much more money than we have.

We can't keep spending money we don't have. Forty-two cents out of every dollar coming out of Washington--it's borrowed money. Let's take a look at where it's coming from. We're borrowing it, 47 percent of it, from other countries--China number one. Mr. Speaker, you can't have sovereignty, self-determination as a country, if we are relying on other governments to cash-flow half of our deficit.

This is where we are.

Here is the problem we have right now, Mr. Speaker. We have a leadership deficit. I keep hearing about the President has got a plan; the President is offering balance. The President hasn't offered a thing yet--nothing on paper, nothing in public. Leaning on reporters at press conferences is not leadership. Giving speeches, according to the CBO, is not budgeting.

The President did inherit a tough problem--no two ways about it. What did he do with this problem? He drove us deeper into debt: $1 trillion of borrowed money for stimulus that was promised to keep unemployment below 8 percent, that went up to 10, and now it's at 9.2; a stalled economy; a budget the President gave us that doubles the debt in 5 years and triples it in 10 years.

That's not leadership.

What has the other body done in the Senate, our partners on the other side of the aisle? Mr. Speaker, it has been 811 days since they bothered trying to pass a budget. Congress has gone for 2 years without a budget.

What did we do when we assumed the majority? We passed a budget. We wrote a budget. We did it in daylight, not in the backroom. We drafted it. We brought it through the committee. We had amendments. We brought it to the floor. We debated it and we passed it.

That is what we've done.

When you take a look at our problem, Mr. Speaker, you have to address what is driving our debt. Here are just the cold, hard facts: 10,000 people are retiring every day. The baby boomers are here, and we're not ready for them. Far fewer people are following them into the workforce. Health care costs are going up four times the rate of inflation. The Congressional Budget Office is telling us Medicare goes bankrupt in 9 years. Medicaid is already bankrupting our States. These are the drivers of our debt. By the year 2025, three programs--Social Security, Medicaid, Medicare--plus our interest, consume 100 percent of all Federal revenues. By the end of this decade, 20 percent of our revenues goes to just paying interest.

This is unsustainable.

So what does our budget do? What does the document that we passed that shows leadership on this issue do?

It saves these programs.

For Medicare, we say you're already retired if you're retired. If you're about to retire, we don't want to pull the rug out from under you. You organized your life around these programs, so let's keep it as is; but in order to cash-flow that commitment, in order to make good on that promissory note, you have to reform it for the next generation. Let's do it in a way that looks like the commission that President Clinton offered, a system that resembles the one we have as Members of Congress: where we get to choose the plans that meet our needs, where we don't subsidize wealthy people as much, and where we subsidize low-income and sick people a whole lot more. That's what a ``safety net'' is.

We fix it and we save Medicare.

What does the law do that the President does? It raids a half a trillion dollars from Medicare. It puts a new board in charge of price controlling and rationing care to current seniors, and it does nothing to save it from bankruptcy.

These are the issues that have got to be dealt with.

Mr. Speaker, we keep hearing about balance. We keep hearing about the need to raise taxes as we cut spending $3 for $1 or something to that effect. The red line shows Congressional Budget Office projections on spending. The green lines are taxes. Basically, what this says is there is no way you can tax your way out of this problem. We asked the Congressional Budget Office. If we tried to do that--have balance, raise taxes--the tax rates on the next generation would be this:

The lowest income tax bracket that lower income people pay, which is 10 percent now, goes to 25 percent. Middle-income taxpayers would pay a 66 percent rate. The top tax rate, which is what all those successful small businesses that create most of our jobs pay, would go to 88 percent. That's according to the Congressional Budget Office. That's the path we're on right now.

This is unsustainable.

What is needed is leadership, and the reason we're talking about this debt limit increase is that we've seen none--none from the President, none from the other body. So, if we're not going to have a budget process, how on Earth are we going to get spending under control so we can solve this problem?

Our budget, this cap and this cut, gets the debt paid off. It puts us on a path to prosperity. It closes loopholes to lower tax rates to grow jobs. It says that the genius of America is the individual, is the business, not our government. It maintains the American legacy of leaving the next generation better off, and we know, without a shadow of a doubt, we are leaving the next generation worse off. In the good old days of 2007, we used to say that this debt was a threat to our children and our grandchildren.

Not so anymore.

It is a threat to our economy today.

Pass Cut, Cap, and Balance. Save this country. Grow the economy. Save the Nation for our children and our grandchildren.

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