New Challenges Timeless Principles
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan addressed an enthusiastic group of conservative activists during ACU’s annual Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC 2013) in the Washington, D.C. area. The Wisconsin Congressman and former Republican Vice Presidential nominee was introduced by Al Cardenas, ACU’s President, to a standing ovation.
Chairman Ryan’s full remarks as prepared for delivery are below [YouTube video also available further below]:
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“Thanks, Al. I’m happy to be here. We all need a break from the mess in Washington. And CPAC is just the occasion. It’s a time to take stock, to catch up with friends, and to plan for the future. It’s also a relief to see a room full of conservatives for a change. So I’m grateful for the chance to speak with you today. Thanks again, everybody.
This has been a big week. We got white smoke from the Vatican—and a budget from the Senate. The Senate calls their budget a Foundation for Growth: Restoring the Promise of American Opportunity. Wow, I feel like saluting already. But when you read it, you find the Vatican’s not the only place blowing smoke this week. They call their budget a balanced approach. But the thing is—they never balance the budget—ever. In fact, they call for another trillion-dollar tax hike on top of even more spending.
We take the opposite approach. And I’m proud of our budget—because it’s changed the conversation. Today, we’re not talking about cliffs or ceilings or sequesters. We’re talking about solutions. That’s how it should be. Our budget expands opportunity by growing the economy. It strengthens the safety net by retooling government. It restores fairness by ending cronyism. And by setting priorities and choosing wisely, it pays off our debt. In fact, we balance the budget in just ten years—without raising taxes.
How do we do it? It’s pretty simple: We stop spending money we don’t have. Historically, we’ve paid a little less than one-fifth of our income in taxes to the federal government each year. But the government has spent a lot more. So our budget matches spending with income. We say to Washington, “What we’re willing to pay is what you’re able to spend. Period.” Every family lives within a budget. Washington should do the same.
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But the crucial question isn’t how we balance the budget. It’s why. The budget is a means to an end. We’re not balancing the budget as an accounting exercise. We’re not just trying to make the numbers add up. We are trying to improve people’s lives. Our debt is a threat to our country. We have to tackle this problem before it tackles us. So today I want to make the case for balance. That case—in a nutshell—is that a balanced budget will promote a healthier economy. It will create jobs. And nothing is more urgent.
Just look at where we are—and where we’re going. Last quarter, the economy grew by a hair. Unemployment is 7.7 percent. And 46 million people are living in poverty. The President says we’re in a recovery. I’d say we’re in critical care. Farther down the road, things will get worse. By the end of 2023, the economy will be at a crawl. And we will have added $8 trillion to our debt. That debt will weigh down the country like an anchor.
In short, we’re on the verge of a debt crisis. Our obligations are growing faster than our ability to pay them. Our debt is already bigger than our economy. At some point, lenders will lose confidence in us. They will demand higher interest rates. And when they do, interest rates across the country will skyrocket—on mortgages, on credit cards, on car loans. Pressed for cash, the government probably would take the easy way out: It would crank up the printing presses. The dollar would sink. Our finances would collapse. The safety net would unravel. And the most vulnerable? They would suffer the most.