Floor Speech on H.R. 2560, the Cut, Cap and Balance Act of 2011
by Congressman Paul Ryan
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. 42 cents of every dollar coming out of Washington is borrowed money. Let’s take a look at where it’s coming from? We’re borrowing 47% of it from other countries, China’s number one.
Mr. Speaker: You can’t have sovereignty and self-determination as a country if we’re relying on other governments to cash-flow half of our deficit. This is where we are.
Here’s the problem we have right now, Mr. Speaker: We have a leadership deficit.
I keep hearing: the President has a plan, the President is offering balance. The President hasn’t offered a thing yet. Nothing on paper, nothing in public. Leading 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. A trillion dollars of borrowed money for the stimulus that was promised to keep unemployment at under 8%. It 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 five years and triples it in ten 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’s been 811 days since they bothered trying to pass a budget. Congress has gone for two 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 back room. 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. And when you take a look at our problem, Mr. Speaker, you have to address what is driving our debt.
Here are the cold hard facts: ten thousand people are retiring every day. The baby boomers are here and we are 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 that Medicare goes bankrupt in nine years. Medicaid is already bankrupting our states. These are the drivers of our debt.
By the year 2025, three programs – Social Security, Medicaid and Medicare – plus our interest consume one hundred percent of all federal revenues. By the end of this decade, twenty percent of our revenues go 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 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.
And let’s do it in a way that looks like the commission that President Clinton offered. A system that resembles the ones that we have as Members of Congress, where we get to choose the ones that meet our needs. We don’t subsidize wealthy people as much, and 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 other body do? Excuse me, what does the law do that the President does? Raids half a trillion dollars from Medicare, puts a new board in charge of price controlling and rationing care to current seniors, and 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 try 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 play which is 10 percent, goes to 25 percent. Middle income tax payers pay a 66 percent rate. And 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 is according to the Congressional Budget Office. That is the path we are on right now. This is unsustainable.
What is needed is leadership and the reason we are talking about this debt limit increase is because we have seen none. None from the President, none from the other body, and if we are 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 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, which we know without-a-shadow of a doubt, we are leaving the next generation worse off.
In the good-ole-days of 2007 we use to say that this debt was a threat to our children and our grandchildren. Not so anymore, it is threat to our economy today. Pass Cut, Cap, and Balance, save this country, grow the economy, and save the nation for our children and our grandchildren. And with that, I yield.