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Concurrent Resolution on the Budget for Fiscal Year 2015

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. RYAN of Wisconsin. Mr. Chairman, I yield myself such time as I may consume.

Mr. Chairman, I am here to rise in support of H. Con. Res. 96, for the fiscal year 2015.

This is the fourth year we have done this--this being bringing a budget to the floor to balance the budget and pay down the national debt.

This is exactly what our economy needs today. We ask the Congressional Budget Office to look at this kind of deficit reduction. What would it do? Well, it is very clear that it would promote economic growth.

In 2024, economic output would be 1.8 percent higher than it otherwise would be. What does that mean? That means by getting our fiscal house in order, by balancing our budget, paying off our debt, and reducing the deficit, take-home pay for Americans will be $1,100 higher than it otherwise would be if we don't do something like this. That is just part of our budget.

We also call for more job creation, economic growth policies like tax reform, and energy development. All of these things would help get our economy back on track.

I also understand that there is a lot of confusion about what is going on in our budget. I would like to spend a few moments sort of clarifying and clearing up some of that confusion.

First, our budget does repeal ObamaCare. Let me say it again. Our budget does repeal ObamaCare because we think it is going to do great damage to our economy, to our budget, to health care. We don't keep the tax hikes in ObamaCare. Instead, we propose revenue neutral comprehensive tax reform. Our critics like to claim we are keeping it. What we are saying is let's scrap this Tax Code in favor of a better Tax Code, including replacing ObamaCare taxes with pro-growth tax reform to create jobs, increase take-home pay, and get this economy growing.

Second, we end the raid on Medicare. The dirty little secret that the other side won't want to talk about is the fact that they turned Medicare into a piggy bank for ObamaCare. They raided $716 billion from Medicare to pay for ObamaCare. We say that those savings from Medicare need to stay with Medicare to make it more solvent, and if some of those savings from Medicare are doing damage to the Medicare provider network, like reducing access to things like Medicare Advantage, then we have a mechanism in here to make sure that we can fix that, just like we did for the SGR, otherwise known as the ``doc fix.''

We think we need to save and strengthen this program, not only so that it is there intact for those in the near retirement, but for future generations who are facing a bankrupt program if we don't do something to reform it.

Second, we don't slash the safety net. If anything, we strengthen the safety net.

This administration has made all sorts of promises that it has no way of keeping, or it has made all sorts of promises and it is not telling us in any way how they are going to keep these promises. It has promised major expansions in programs like Medicaid and Pell grants. How they plan to pay for it, we have no idea. We refuse to be complicit with the demise of these programs.

We spend $3.5 trillion over the next 10 years on Medicaid. Under our budget, program spending will continue to rise by population plus inflation. We grow the program each and every year after fiscal year 2016 onward. We simply slow the growth rate by giving Governors and State legislators more flexibility to customize these programs to meet the unique needs of their populations instead of cramming down their throats some one-size-fits-all Washington-knows-best approach, which has been failing the Medicare population in our health care provider network.

This budget spends $600 billion over the next 10 years on food stamps. It is a program that has quadrupled since 2002. We propose to give Governors more flexibility so that they can customize this program to meet the needs of their populations, but not until 2019, until CBO says the economy will have recovered by then.

CBO says that the Pell grant is going bankrupt. It is going to face a fiscal shortfall in 2016 and every year thereafter. So instead of making all these Pell promises that the government has no way of keeping, the budget maintains the current Pell award, $5,730, throughout each of the next 10 years and funds it.

Our budget all told cuts $5.1 trillion in spending over the next 10 years. We do this by cutting waste, by cutting abuse, by stopping the age-old Washington practice of spending money we just don't have, and by making much needed reforms to government programs.

Our critics call this draconian. Look at it this way. On the current path, we are set to spend $48 trillion of hardworking taxpayer dollars or borrow it from the next generation--$48 trillion over the next 10 years. Under this path, we will spend $43 trillion.

By contrast, under the current path, Federal Government spending is slated to rise by 5.2 percent on average for the next decade. Under this budget, it will rise by 3.5 percent over the next decade. Hardly draconian.

Mr. Chairman, there is nothing compassionate about making promises that the government cannot keep. When that bill comes due, it is going to hurt the vulnerable, the first and the worst, and the voiceless. This is why we need to get spending under control.

Let me show you what we are proposing in a nutshell. The red shows you our national debt. Our national debt is on course to hit catastrophic levels. Our national debt is going to hit these catastrophic levels which guarantee that the next generation of Americans inherit a bleak future, a lower standard of living, a burden of debt that they cannot have a high standard of living with.

We in our generation have to make tough choices. We have got to face up to this issue. What we are saying here with this budget is, the sooner we get on top of our fiscal problems, the better off everybody is going to be.

We are saying, if we get ahead of these problems now, we can phase in reforms, such as Medicare reforms that don't even affect people in or near retirement. The sooner we tackle these fiscal problems, the better off everybody is going to be, the faster the economy grows, and the more we can guarantee that the next generation inherits a debt-free future.

We have never given the next generation a diminished future in this country before. That is the great legacy of this Nation, work hard and make tough choices, so that the next generation can be better off. We know, without a shadow of a doubt, that that is not going to be the case.

According to the Congressional Budget Office, we know that, in a couple of years, the debt starts taking back off, and we are back to $1 trillion deficits. Our tax revenues are at an alltime high this year. The problem is that spending is outpacing that. The sooner we can get our fiscal house in order, the sooner we can create jobs and get economic growth.

The sooner we can bring solvency to our safety net, to our social contract, the more that people can depend on these programs, and the sooner we can bring these reforms to get our spending in line with our revenues, the faster we can pay off this debt.

Just like a family, a government that lives beyond its means today necessarily has to live below its means tomorrow. We want to make right by the next generation. We want to grow this economy.

We want to create jobs and increase take-home pay, and we want to get people to work. That is what this budget is designed to do, and that is why I am proud to bring this balanced budget to the floor.

I reserve the balance of my time.


Mr. RYAN of Wisconsin. Mr. Chairman, I yield myself 30 seconds to say: you can't have it both ways.

That is interesting. You can raid Medicare by $716 billion to pay for ObamaCare and then count that money as if it is going back to Medicare, counting the same dollar twice. That is not our word. That is the word of the Congressional Budget Office and of the actuaries, themselves, at Medicare, which is what the other side did with ObamaCare.

Look, apparently, the only way to revive and protect the American Dream is to bring our debt from $17 trillion to $24 trillion and, on the way there, raise taxes on hardworking Americans another $1.8 trillion, and if you are not for that, you are against the American Dream.

With that, I yield 2 minutes to the gentleman from Nebraska (Mr. Terry).


Mr. RYAN of Wisconsin. Mr. Chairman, I yield myself 30 seconds to say, wow, that sounds horrible. Good thing it is not true. Only in Washington is a slower increase in spending awful, blood-curdling, cut-throating, terrible, and draconian cuts.

If we are going to get our fiscal house in order, what we are saying in this budget is, instead of increasing spending 5.2 percent a year on average, let's do it by 3.5 percent a year on average--hardly draconian.

And by the way, maybe people closer to the problems, like our States, might have a better idea on how to help people in their communities. Those are the principles we are talking about here.

With that, Mr. Chairman, I yield 3 minutes to the gentleman from Illinois (Mr. Roskam), the chief deputy whip.


Mr. RYAN of Wisconsin. Mr. Chairman, I yield myself such time as I may consume.

As the Ryan of the Ryan-Murray agreement, look, I wish that the Murray side of the agreement would have agreed to these out-year numbers. That didn't happen. That agreement is a 2-year agreement, so to compare this budget and the baseline against that of the 24 cut, that is not accurate.

Here is the problem, Mr. Chairman. We are spending money we don't have. We are going through the budget, program by program, line by line, and trying to reform these programs so that they can better deliver on their promises.

We are looking at certain programs, say, like food stamps, and saying, some States have some pretty innovative ideas on how better to deliver these services.

There have been some wasteful and fraudulent activities that needed to be gotten at so that we don't waste taxpayer money.

We think it is important to encourage able-bodied adults who do not have dependents to go to work. When we did that in welfare reform in the 1990s, it worked. People went to work.

By the way, child poverty dropped by double digits. Single moms went to work. It helped reduce poverty. We want to replicate that kind of success with these kind of reforms on these kinds of programs.

When they talk about education, this administration, and this Democratic budget, is making a bunch of empty promises. They are promising the world in Pell grants, but they are not funding that world.

We are saying, let's keep Pell and let's fund it, and let's keep it where it is, but let's fund it throughout the decade. I would rather take a full-funded promise than an empty promise any day. I think that is more honest with our students.

The other part I think we have to look at is, we are feeding tuition inflation. If we just keep pumping more and more borrowed money, empty-promised money into the system, what we are getting out of it is higher tuition.

Why don't we look at why tuition is going up so much in the first place?

Gosh, when we look at that, we are learning the Federal Government is part of the problem. Let's fix that.

Mr. Chairman, we do go through these things line by line.

The gentleman likes to talk about tax reform. What he won't tell you is specifically what this tax reform bill does, because we don't have a specific tax reform in here because this is the budget.

The Ways and Means Committee does specific tax reform. That is where the loophole closers are.

We are saying the outline of it is to get tax rates down on businesses, small and large, so they can compete.

There are $1 trillion in loopholes every year that they can work with to get those tax rates down. So to suggest that this, all of a sudden, does these tax breaks for millionaires and does this for these other people and does that, they are just making that stuff up.

What I think we ought to do is put the rhetoric aside and balance this budget.

Mr. Chairman, I reserve the balance of my time.


Mr. RYAN of Wisconsin. Yielding myself 15 seconds, the shared responsibility we are asking for is let's fix these problems within our generation and not pass it on to the next generation.


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

The first priority and responsibility of the Federal Government is to secure our Nation and to provide for the common defense of our Nation.

The gentleman from Maryland mentioned the President has this proposal for this year that would have violated our bipartisan budget agreement. It is a proposal that holds hostage defense for higher taxes and more domestic spending, but worse than that, we had a hearing in the Budget Committee about 2 years ago.

Then-Secretary of Defense Panetta, along with the chairman of the Joint Chiefs, came and testified; and they said to our Budget Committee: This is as far as we can go, we can't cut any further without doing damage to our military.

That is effectively where the Republican budget is. That is not where this year's Obama budget is. The President's budget, which is also replicated by the Democratic substitute, cuts the military far lower than that. They are bringing the Army and the Marines to a level we have not seen since before World War II. They are shrinking our Navy to a size we have not seen since before World War I. They are shrinking our Air Force to a level we have never seen before.

They are cutting compensation for our men and women in uniform, not to save money for other parts of the military, like readiness and training and equipment, but they are cutting compensation, cutting force structure, cutting personnel, cutting equipment, cutting defense--not to reduce the deficit, but to spend it on more domestic spending.

The Joint Chiefs have said that now, with this budget submission, it represents a moderate risk of actually affecting our national security. They have never said that before. They have said we have had a low risk.


Mr. RYAN of Wisconsin. I yield myself 15 more seconds to say, of all the problems that we have in the President's budget, it hollows out our military, sends the wrong signals overseas, and we are not going to do that.


Mr. RYAN of Wisconsin. Mr. Chairman, I yield myself 30 seconds just to say there are different visions. We don't think we should take more money from hardworking taxpayers to spend it in Washington and then borrow more from our children. We think we should balance the budget and pay off the debt.

We are going to see a lot of budgets coming to the floor here offered by the other side, which is great. It is their right. I am glad they are offering alternatives.

Mr. Van Hollen's Democratic budget will have a $1.8 trillion tax increase, just like the President's new $1.8 trillion tax increase. The Progressive Caucus budget, they have the candle here: a $6.6 trillion tax increase they are encouraging.


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

Spending by the other side, what they are saying is let's just have a bidding war on how much we can raise people's taxes. Let's even raise spending more. And nobody else is offering a budget that will ever balance the budget. So the idea here is borrow endlessly, never balance it, and give our children an inferior standard of living.


Mr. RYAN of Wisconsin. Mr. Chairman, I would like to insert into the Record a very specific recitation of the Center for Budget Priorities' claim that the gentlewoman mentioned, and at this time, I yield 2 minutes to the gentlewoman from Tennessee (Mrs. Black), a distinguished member of the Budget Committee.

Responsible Spending Restraint and Reform--Response to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities

In Brief:

A smaller increase is not a spending cut.

Under this budget, spending will grow, on average, by 3.5 percent a year over the next decade--on the current path, it will grow by 5.2 percent.

This budget spends $3.5 trillion on Medicaid over the next ten years. We increase spending every year from fiscal year 2016 onward.

This budget spends $600 billion on food stamps over the next decade. And it does not convert SNAP into a block grant until 2019, when the economy will have recovered.

This budget maintains the current maximum Pell award ($5,730) throughout each of the next ten years of the budget.

The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities claims the House Republican budget ``gets 69 percent of its cuts from low-income programs.'' Instead, the House GOP budget grows them at a more sustainable rate.

On the current path, the federal government will spend roughly $48 trillion over the next ten years. By contrast, this budget will spend nearly $43 trillion.

On the current path, spending will grow, on average, by 5.2 percent a year over the next decade. Under this budget, spending will grow, on average, by 3.5 percent a year.

Nearly $43 trillion is enough. Increasing spending by 3.5 percent instead of 5.2 percent is hardly draconian.

President Obama and his party have made promises they can't keep--they've promised huge expansions to safety-net programs that ultimately would bankrupt them.

Medicaid: This budget repeals Obamacare--including the law's massive expansions of Medicaid, which are unsustainable. Instead, this budget spends $3.5 trillion on Medicaid over the next ten years. We grow the program every year from fiscal year 2016 onward. We simply slow the rate of growth and give states the flexibility to meet the unique needs of their people.

SNAP: This budget spends $600 billion on food stamps over the next decade. By capping open-ended federal subsidies and allowing states to develop new, innovative methods, the budget's gradual reforms encourage states to reduce rolls and help recipients find work. The budget also doesn't covert SNAP into a block grant until 2019, when the economy will have fully recovered. The budget also calls for time limits and work requirements like the reforms that helped reduce poverty nationwide in the mid-1990s.

Pell Grants: Congressional Democrats and the President have pushed Pell Grant spending to unsustainable rates. The Congressional Budget Office reports the program will face fiscal shortfalls starting in 2016 and continuing through each year of the budget window. We need to reform the program so it can keep its promises. This budget brings Pell spending under control and makes sure aid helps the truly needy, not university administrators. At the same time, this budget maintains the current maximum Pell award ($5,730) throughout each of the next ten years of the budget.


Mr. RYAN of Wisconsin. Mr. Chairman, I yield myself 1 minute.

I want to rest the mind of the distinguished minority whip at ease. Chairman Rogers does support this budget. His comments in 2013 aside, he is a supporter of this budget. This budget balances using CBO numbers.

I would also say this. All these complaints about spending cuts or slower increases in spending aside--this budget, by the way, doesn't specify that NIH is going to have all of that--all of these reductions in spending or reductions in the increase in spending will pale in comparison if we have a debt crisis, if we have a bond market incident, if we have an interest rate shock.

If we keep kicking the can down the road, the solution then will be so much uglier, so much more draconian, than any of this hyperbolic rhetoric even suggests.


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

I think there is this view that the pie of life is fixed, that society is static--the economy, a fixed pie--and that we here in Washington should decide how to redistribute the slices of the pie.

We reject that whole, entire premise. Life is dynamic. The economy is dynamic. We want to grow the pie for everybody. You don't grow the pie--grow opportunity or grow the economy--if you drive this country to a debt crisis, if you continue spending way beyond your means, if you spend money we don't have that is taken from the next generation.

This President has already raised taxes $1.7 trillion. The top effective tax rate on successful small businesses is almost 45 percent. The tax rate on big businesses, like corporations, is 35 percent.


Mr. RYAN of Wisconsin. Mr. Chairman, I yield myself an additional minute.

Our competitors, the countries we compete with, tax their businesses at 25 percent. When we tax ourselves a lot more than our foreign competitors tax themselves, they win, and we lose.

What we are hearing from the other side is that $1.7 trillion tax increase is not enough. Let's go farther and tax another $1.8 trillion.

Then this rhetoric about winners and losers and the few and the this and the that is a notion that all of the good ideas come from Washington. It is a notion that goes beyond the idea that government needs to play a supporting role in our lives, in fulfilling important missions like health and retirement security and a safety net, to government needs to play the commanding role in our lives, that it needs to dictate these things, that government runs the economy, that government decides who wins and who loses.

Guess what, Mr. Chairman? When you do that, the interest groups that they are all complaining about, they are the ones who call the shots up here.

What we are trying to do with this budget is to get the basics right. What we want to do is to make sure that we can make good on these very important missions of health and retirement security, and we want to make sure that people get to decide how it is done in their lives.

We want to make sure that American businesses have what they need to compete and survive and grow and to create jobs in this global economy. What we want to make sure is that we don't live beyond our means so that our kids live below their means. We want to grow this economy.


Mr. RYAN of Wisconsin. Mr. Chairman, I yield myself an additional minute.

We have got a big debt. We all know that. The question is: Who owns our debt? Who is in control of our future?

We already know we are asking a lot from the next generation, more than any other generation has before. Back when I was born in 1970, 6 percent of our national debt was owned by foreigners. In 1990, when I was in college, 19 percent was owned by foreigners. Today, 47 percent of our national debt is owned by foreigners. They control half of our debt.

That is not in our country's interest. Relying on other countries to cash flow our country--to cash flow our budget--is not smart economics, and we know we are taking control of our country and are ceding it elsewhere.

This is why we have got to get this debt under control, for our kids, for our grandkids, for our economy, and for our sovereignty.

With that, I reserve the balance of my time.


Mr. RYAN of Wisconsin. Mr. Chairman, I yield myself 4 minutes.

Mr. Chairman, budgeting is about choosing. Budgeting is about setting priorities. In this particular case, it is about setting a path for the country.

We have got serious fiscal challenges unlike any we have ever had before; and when we look at some of these fiscal challenges, it is very clear that the sooner we get on top of these problems, the sooner we deal with these problems, the better off everybody is going to be.

Here, in a nutshell, is our big fiscal issue. It is not a Democrat or Republican thing. It is not a partisan thing. It is really sort of a demographic and math thing.

We are going from roughly 40 million seniors to about 80 million seniors, retirees. The baby boomers are retiring, 10,000 people a day, at this pace, for 10 years. The programs that they rely on, like Medicare--really important programs--grow 6 to 8 percent a year.

So when you have a pay-as-you-go system where current workers pay current taxes under their current paychecks to pay for current retirees--as I am paying my payroll taxes for my mom's Medicare and Social

Security benefits, and when I am retired, my kids will do the same for me--and you have an 89 percent increase in the retirement population but about a 17 percent increase in the taxpaying population, therein lies your challenge.

So these programs are growing so much faster than our ability to pay. They are growing faster than wages, economy, and revenues, to the point where these programs that we rely on that are so special and necessary--I have seen Social Security and Medicare do important things in my own family and my own life--these things are going bankrupt. The sooner we fix it, the better off we are all going to be.

The other problem is, if we don't fix this, if we don't even show the world or the country that we intend to fix this, our economy really suffers, because the economy, businesses, banks, credit unions, creditors, small businesses, and large businesses don't know what the future is going to look like.

So all these things we need to do to get people to take risks and hire people and invest and start a new business, we are slowing that down. That is why the CBO says the economy is slowing down. It is hard to get people out of poverty if we don't have good jobs for them to get out of poverty with.

If you look at this chart, we are going into unchartered territory. We have had big debt before. Our debt was as big as our economy in World War II, but for the years we fought World War II, then it went back down.

Because of this problem I described--not a Republican or Democrat problem, but just America's problem--our debt has grown more than twice the size of our economy. You can't have a prosperous society with that kind of debt. It has never been done before.

And so what we are saying is let's get ahead of this problem. Let's phase in these reforms so that we can make good on our promise to our seniors who have already retired and so that all those people nearing retirement--people in their later fifties thinking and planning for their retirement--let's make good for them. But let's acknowledge that those of us in the X generation and lower--those younger--these programs will not be there for us when we retire. We need to fix this.

And by the way, we need pro-growth solutions: reform the Tax Code, balance the budget, have an energy renaissance in America, and streamline regulations so businesses know how to plan so that we can create jobs and economic growth. This budget does all of that. That is why I urge its adoption, and that is why I look forward to continuing this debate tomorrow.

I reserve the balance of my time.


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