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“A Roadmap for America's Future”

Remarks from Congressman Paul Ryan

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May 21, 2008 | comments

Please visit www.americanroadmap.org for more details.

WASHINGTON – Wisconsin’s 1st District Congressman Paul Ryan unveiled his bold, comprehensive proposal to transform the Federal government. At today’s news conference, Ryan delivered the following remarks:

“Today I’m introducing comprehensive legislative to address what I believe is the greatest threat to our nation’s long-term prosperity: the looming entitlement crisis.

My plan is called A Roadmap for America’s Future, and I’d like to explain what it does, and why I’m doing it.

Right now, America has a choice between two futures. In one – the fiscal path we’re on now – we continue trying to meet the needs of a rapidly changing world with outdated programs that are growing themselves right into extinction. This will lead us down a fiscal path on which Americans’ health and retirement security programs collapse; we condemn future generations to a crushing burden of debt and taxes; and our economy is crippled and unable to compete with the rest of the world.

In fact, by the time my three kids are my age, they will have to pay twice the taxes we pay today – just to keep the government afloat. This will occur with no new programs, no new spending – double the taxes just to maintain the status quo.

And yet we do nothing about it. Year after year, we keep kicking the can down the road. Both parties share in the blame for this inaction. We don’t want to deal with this problem – or even talk about it – because it’s an election year, and it’s just too controversial to deal with such things. But it’s an election year every other year. If we continue to wait for the “right time” to reform – the politically “safe” time – we will never solve this problem.

Well, I didn’t come to Washington just to be a Congressman. I came here to do something. The people of Wisconsin sent me here to solve problems, not ignore them. 

And when I see a government that makes promises it can’t possibly keep; a future where my kids will be worse off than I am; and an American economy that will struggle to compete – let alone lead – in an international economy – I see the need for a plan that sets a different course.

This is the future we face if we do nothing. I believe we can – and must – set a different course. If we begin to act immediately – there remains the opportunity for a dramatically better American future. But the time for talk has passed. We need a plan. 

So over the past few years, I’ve solicited input from many people – from experts in DC to working people in Wisconsin. 

From those discussions, I’ve developed this plan to transform the Federal government – to fix healthcare, Medicare, Social Security, our tax system, and our growing debt and to put it on a different path, a path illustrated by the second line on this chart.

My legislation, called – A Roadmap for America’s Future – will keep the size of government at a sustainable level and achieve the following three objectives:

  • It Fulfills the Mission of Health and Retirement Security for all Americans;
  • It Lifts the Burden of Debt from the Shoulders of Future Generations; and
  • It Ensures American Jobs and Competitiveness in the 21st Century Economy.

And it’s a real plan, with real proposals, real numbers to back them up, and real legislation to implement it. As you can see, this is a pretty thick bill – it’s hundred of pages long – so I won’t go through all the details... 

But here are a few key points:

Health Care.
  • Ensures universal access to affordable health insurance by restructuring the tax code, allowing all Americans to secure an affordable health plan that best suits their needs.
  • Shifts the ownership of health coverage away from the government and employers to individuals.
Medicare and Medicaid.
  • Beneficiaries will be able to participate in the same personalized high quality care offered by market-based coverage and can choose the most affordable coverage to suit their needs.
  • Preserves the current Medicare program for those 55 and older.
  • Makes both Medicare and Medicaid permanently solvent.
Social Security.
  • Offers workers under 55 the option of investing over one third of their current Social Security taxes into personal retirement accounts.
  • Makes benefits the property of the individual so they can pass on wealth to their heirs.
  • Guarantees that total benefits from the personal accounts will not be less than they would have been under the current system.
  • Makes the program permanently solvent.
Tax Reform.
  • Provides individual taxpayers with a choice: they can continue to pay taxes under the current system, or under a highly simplified code – with just two rates and virtually no special tax deductions, credits, or exclusions.
  • Eliminates the AMT, taxes on capital gains and dividends, and gets rid of the death tax.
  • Repeals the corporate income tax – currently the second highest in the industrialized world – and replaces it with a border-adjustable business consumption tax of 8.5% – a very competitive international rate.
In the end, what matters most is what all this means for Americans’ jobs and their standard of living. So, I asked CBO to analyze the economic impact of the budget path of my plan, compared to the status quo.

Here’s what CBO found – Under the Roadmap, GNP per person would be a full 85 percent higher than if we remain on the current course. Hence, this plan maintains the American legacy of leaving the next generation better off.

I recognize this is an ambitious proposal. Not everyone will agree with every aspect of it, and that’s fine. These problems are not Democratic problems or Republican problems, and neither are the solutions. We need to build bipartisan support for action in Congress. If nothing else, it is my sincere hope that it will spur Congress to move beyond simply rehashing the problem – to debating, and implementing actual solutions for the American people.

We must come together to set a better course for our nation’s future. If we don’t start tackling these problems – and soon – they’re going to tackle us. The entitlement crisis is real, it’s serious, it’s not going away, and it’s getting dramatically worse with every year we fail to act.

But – as demonstrated time and again in the past – when Americans put their ingenuity and resolve to work on a problem, they solve it. The 20th century was an extraordinary period of American achievement. And I believe that my plan – this Roadmap – will give Americans the means and tools to: solve the massive entitlement problem; make this century even better than the last; and continue our great legacy of leaving the next generation better off.”

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