Official GOP State of the Union response by Rep. Paul Ryan
January 25th, 2011
09:16 PM ET
4 years ago

Official GOP State of the Union response by Rep. Paul Ryan

As prepared for delivery:

Good evening. I’m Congressman Paul Ryan from Janesville, Wisconsin – and Chairman here at the House Budget Committee.

President Obama just addressed a Congressional chamber filled with many new faces. One face we did not see tonight was that of our friend and colleague, Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords of Arizona. We all miss Gabby and her cheerful spirit; and we are praying for her return to the House Chamber.

Earlier this month, President Obama spoke movingly at a memorial event for the six people who died on that violent morning in Tucson. Still, there are no words that can lift the sorrow that now engulfs the families and friends of the fallen.

What we can do is assure them that the nation is praying for them; that, in the words of the Psalmist, the Lord heals the broken hearted and binds up their wounds; and that over time grace will replace grief.

*****

As Gabby continues to make encouraging progress, we must keep her and the others in our thoughts as we attend to the work now before us.

Tonight, the President focused a lot of attention on our economy in general – and on our deficit and debt in particular.

He was right to do so, and some of his words were reassuring. As Chairman of the House Budget Committee, I assure you that we want to work with the President to restrain federal spending.

In one of our first acts in the new majority, House Republicans voted to cut Congress’s own budget. And just today, the House voted to restore the spending discipline that Washington sorely needs.

The reason is simple.

A few years ago, reducing spending was important. Today, it’s imperative. Here’s why.

We face a crushing burden of debt. The debt will soon eclipse our entire economy, and grow to catastrophic levels in the years ahead.

On this current path, when my three children – who are now 6, 7, and 8 years old – are raising their own children, the Federal government will double in size, and so will the taxes they pay.

No economy can sustain such high levels of debt and taxation. The next generation will inherit a stagnant economy and a diminished country.

Frankly, it’s one of my greatest concerns as a parent – and I know many of you feel the same way.

*****

Our debt is the product of acts by many Presidents and many Congresses over many years. No one person or party is responsible for it.

There is no doubt the President came into office facing a severe fiscal and economic situation.

Unfortunately, instead of restoring the fundamentals of economic growth, he engaged in a stimulus spending spree that not only failed to deliver on its promise to create jobs, but also plunged us even deeper into debt.

The facts are clear: Since taking office, President Obama has signed into law spending increases of nearly 25% for domestic government agencies – an 84% increase when you include the failed stimulus.

All of this new government spending was sold as “investment.” Yet after two years, the unemployment rate remains above 9% and government has added over $3 trillion to our debt.

Then the President and his party made matters even worse, by creating a new open-ended health care entitlement.

What we already know about the President’s health care law is this: Costs are going up, premiums are rising, and millions of people will lose the coverage they currently have. Job creation is being stifled by all of its taxes, penalties, mandates and fees.

Businesses and unions from around the country are asking the Obama Administration for waivers from the mandates. Washington should not be in the business of picking winners and losers. The President mentioned the need for regulatory reform to ease the burden on American businesses. We agree – and we think his health care law would be a great place to start.

Last week, House Republicans voted for a full repeal of this law, as we pledged to do, and we will work to replace it with fiscally responsible, patient-centered reforms that actually reduce costs and expand coverage.

Health care spending is driving the explosive growth of our debt. And the President’s law is accelerating our country toward bankruptcy.

Our debt is out of control. What was a fiscal challenge is now a fiscal crisis.

We cannot deny it; instead we must, as Americans, confront it responsibly.

*****

And that is exactly what Republicans pledge to do.

Americans are skeptical of both political parties, and that skepticism is justified – especially when it comes to spending. So hold all of us accountable.

In this very room, the House will produce, debate, and advance a budget. Last year – in an unprecedented failure– Congress chose not to pass, or even propose a budget. The spending spree continued unchecked.
¬¬
*****

We owe you a better choice and a different vision.

Our forthcoming budget is our obligation to you – to show you how we intend to do things differently … how we will cut spending to get the debt down… help create jobs and prosperity … and reform government programs. If we act soon, and if we act responsibly, people in and near retirement will be protected.

These budget debates are not just about the programs of government; they’re also about the purpose of government.

So I’d like to share with you the principles that guide us. They are anchored in the wisdom of the founders; in the spirit of the Declaration of Independence; and in the words of the American Constitution.

They have to do with the importance of limited government; and with the blessing of self-government.

*****

We believe government’s role is both vital and limited – to defend the nation from attack and provide for the common defense … to secure our borders… to protect innocent life… to uphold our laws and Constitutional rights … to ensure domestic tranquility and equal opportunity … and to help provide a safety net for those who cannot provide for themselves.

We believe that the government has an important role to create the conditions that promote entrepreneurship, upward mobility, and individual responsibility.

We believe, as our founders did, that “the pursuit of happiness” depends upon individual liberty; and individual liberty requires limited government.

*****

Limited government also means effective government. When government takes on too many tasks, it usually doesn’t do any of them very well. It’s no coincidence that trust in government is at an all-time low now that the size of government is at an all-time high.

The President and the Democratic Leadership have shown, by their actions, that they believe government needs to increase its size and its reach, its price tag and its power.

*****

Whether sold as “stimulus” or repackaged as “investment,” their actions show they want a federal government that controls too much; taxes too much; and spends too much in order to do too much.

And during the last two years, that is exactly what we have gotten – along with record deficits and debt – to the point where the President is now urging Congress to increase the debt limit.

We believe the days of business as usual must come to an end. We hold to a couple of simple convictions: Endless borrowing is not a strategy; spending cuts have to come first.

*****

Our nation is approaching a tipping point.

We are at a moment, where if government’s growth is left unchecked and unchallenged, America’s best century will be considered our past century. This is a future in which we will transform our social safety net into a hammock, which lulls able-bodied people into lives of complacency and dependency.

Depending on bureaucracy to foster innovation, competitiveness, and wise consumer choices has never worked – and it won’t work now.

We need to chart a new course.

*****

Speaking candidly, as one citizen to another: We still have time… but not much time. If we continue down our current path, we know what our future will be.

Just take a look at what’s happening to Greece, Ireland, the United Kingdom and other nations in Europe. They didn’t act soon enough; and now their governments have been forced to impose painful austerity measures: large benefit cuts to seniors and huge tax increases on everybody.

Their day of reckoning has arrived. Ours is around the corner. That is why we must act now.

*****

Some people will back away from this challenge. But I see this challenge as an opportunity to rebuild what Lincoln called the “central ideas” of the Republic.

We believe a renewed commitment to limited government will unshackle our economy and create millions of new jobs and opportunities for all people, of every background, to succeed and prosper. Under this approach, the spirit of initiative – not political clout – determines who succeeds.

Millions of families have fallen on hard times not because of our ideals of free enterprise – but because our leaders failed to live up to those ideals; because of poor decisions made in Washington and Wall Street that caused a financial crisis, squandered our savings, broke our trust, and crippled our economy.

Today, a similar kind of irresponsibility threatens not only our livelihoods but our way of life.

*****

We need to reclaim our American system of limited government, low taxes, reasonable regulations, and sound money, which has blessed us with unprecedented prosperity. And it has done more to help the poor than any other economic system ever designed. That’s the real secret to job creation – not borrowing and spending more money in Washington.

Limited government and free enterprise have helped make America the greatest nation on earth.

*****

These are not easy times, but America is an exceptional nation. In all the chapters of human history, there has never been anything quite like America. The American story has been cherished, advanced, and defended over the centuries.

And it now falls to this generation to pass on to our children a nation that is stronger, more vibrant, more decent, and better than the one we inherited.

Thank you and good night.


Filed under: GOP • Paul Ryan • SOTU 2011
soundoff (123 Responses)
  1. Isolationist

    Yes, yes, yes, we will balance this and balance that and cut taxes and reform healthcare, blah, blah..
    Care to share even one specific idea on HOW you will accomplish any of this Mr. Ryan?

    January 25, 2011 10:50 pm at 10:50 pm |
  2. Sally

    A classless response to a SOTU that resonated with the message of civility and a change in the tone of our public discourse and approach to problems.

    Ryan just went back to the same old blame game. The same one he probably accused Democrats of playing with W. I just found it horrible. Terrible response.

    January 25, 2011 10:50 pm at 10:50 pm |
  3. biglio

    And it has done more to help the poor than any other economic system ever designed.

    Ha, ha, ha,....I almost died laughing, is this guy from Mars or what?
    Please take a plane to northern europe or western europe, anywhere, the level of poverty seen in the Us is nowhere seen in developed countries, where taxes are higher on the rich and yes they are distributed to the poor or less fortunate and BTW let's dispel the myth that We are the greatest innovators on earth because it's years now that Europe beats us in terms of patents filed, this guy is clueless like most of the GOP, which created this mess we are in if we really want to assign blame. finally, from the chairman of the budget committee i was expecting at least an ability to do some simple math, the stimulus didn't create jobs but it's returning money with interest to the government unlike TARP, which was implemented by the Bush administration. clueless is ok being this guy a republican but i would have liked a little honesty.....(too much to ask to a republican?). BTW how is wisconsin doing now that it turned right and businesses are leaving like there is the plague there?

    January 25, 2011 10:50 pm at 10:50 pm |
  4. Michael Klein

    I found Paul Ryan's speech a reasoned one, although I don't agree with it. At one point he says, "Then the President and his party made matters even worse, by creating a new open-ended health care entitlement." But the new health care law is not an entitlement. Why does he claim it is an entitlement?

    January 25, 2011 10:51 pm at 10:51 pm |
  5. ED

    Old, tired, overused rhetoric with no factual support. Just the message alone that the Democrats are the ones that brought us from surplus to record deficit is so obiously inaccurate that it is enough to discredit any other words he speaks.

    January 25, 2011 10:51 pm at 10:51 pm |
  6. tlhgjh

    This is nothing new from the Republican base...all they claim is 'cut taxes' as the fix all. This will not work ..it has not worked. It's the same old rhetoric going nowhere that we've heard over and over. The continued spending started on the Republican watch. Our president has a strategic vision for the future and is taking us in the right direction. It's up to us to make sure we are able to read his roadmap ....

    January 25, 2011 10:53 pm at 10:53 pm |
  7. cuffdaddy

    I agree our debt is overwhelming. What is underwhelming is that Rep. Ryan omitted to mention Bush (Republicans)/Neo-republican teaparty contributed to our debt. I hope America does not forget that!

    January 25, 2011 10:53 pm at 10:53 pm |
  8. Harry

    blah blah blah

    1.1 million jobs were created bc of the president. The GOP is full of hot air.

    January 25, 2011 10:53 pm at 10:53 pm |
  9. Vee D.

    The Republicans stand for FEAR. Where are your plans? I have not heard them yet. Thanks to you GOP, the future appears dark and fearful. Wow, OMG.

    January 25, 2011 10:54 pm at 10:54 pm |
  10. Bridget Ryan

    This guy is an idiot! Where does he get his facts??

    January 25, 2011 10:55 pm at 10:55 pm |
  11. FacebookPolitician

    "Their day of reckoning has arrived. Ours is around the corner. That is why we must act now." I thought there would at least be a one month moratorium on fear mongering and hyperbole. I guess the GOP couldn't wait that long...

    January 25, 2011 10:57 pm at 10:57 pm |
  12. Ben Jordan

    "We need to reclaim our American system of ... low taxes, reasonable regulations" we have the lowest taxes in 50 years and lack of regulation is what sent us into this crisis. It is not constructive to mislead the American Public.

    January 25, 2011 10:58 pm at 10:58 pm |
  13. Balls McGhee

    funny, this guy didnt notice his taxes went down while Obama was in office. OOPS!! duh!

    January 25, 2011 10:59 pm at 10:59 pm |
  14. Cal

    According to Michelle Bachman, Americans have a right to buy health insurance from companies that will cancel you at the first sign of illness. Even if it costs $1000 a month. Yeah, that is liberty. If you are rich. For those who can't afford the $1000 a
    month United Healthcare premiums, screw you. THat's the tea party message. And what is amazing, the low income people
    of the US will buy this BS from millionaires like Michelle. Why do people who live in trailers let those who live in mansions
    tell them what to think?

    January 25, 2011 10:59 pm at 10:59 pm |
  15. PATRICK

    Fine then Rep. Ryan... since we can't raise taxes because the rich need a tax cut... please cut the budget... start with defense cuts of 50%... then cut all other spending 50%... whammo balanced budget.

    Good luck with that... and find out what happens to your party when you do.

    January 25, 2011 11:00 pm at 11:00 pm |
  16. jim

    i see far too much inaccurate spin, here ... "failed" stimulus and we're on track to have record profits this year. failed by who's measure?

    just one example of conservative twaddle.

    January 25, 2011 11:01 pm at 11:01 pm |
  17. John

    So... in reality... the GOP hasn't actually developed any of these plans. In particular... they want to repeal the Health Care legislation... again... without any plan to insure over 50 million Americans who have no health insurance! Sounds like a pig-in-a-poke to me!

    January 25, 2011 11:02 pm at 11:02 pm |
  18. John S

    I don't get it. All I heard was a self serving partisan serving up republican doom and gloom and bashing the opposing party. This guy is the intellegence of the republican party? His ideas are simplistic and will impact those most vulnerable harshly. He talks of an american government that essentially leaves everyone to fend for themselves. Then you have the completely clueless tea party speaker with her I don't even know where to begin, except to say, if she represents tea party thinking god help us!

    January 25, 2011 11:03 pm at 11:03 pm |
  19. Orlando

    First he says there is no one president to blame for the mess we are in and then he turns around and blames Obama.
    Typical politics again....

    So sick of all these politics.
    Corporations play politics do – but the only difference is that corporations come to some agreement and keeping moving forward.
    Here – if there's disagreement – that's it.

    I propose that if there is major legislation that impacts us (The American People), that we have an option to vote for it during elections.

    Instead, the Republicans/Democrats say – "Hey, it's not want the Americans want". How the heck do they know? I don't recall anyone asking me.

    So tired of all this.
    Regardless of all this rhetoric – I Love My Country!

    January 25, 2011 11:03 pm at 11:03 pm |
  20. terri wesley

    I would listsen to you guys, except for the fact you had 2 Bush wars going on, off the books...you have no room to criticize..I support my President and the American people.

    January 25, 2011 11:05 pm at 11:05 pm |
  21. Orlando

    First he says there is no one president to blame for the mess we are in and then he turns around and blames Obama.
    Typical politics again....

    So sick of all these politics.
    Corporations play politics to – but the only difference is that corporations come to some agreement and keep moving forward.
    In Washington – if there's disagreement – that's it.

    I propose that if there is major legislation that impacts us (The American People), that we have an option to vote for it during elections.

    Instead, the Republicans/Democrats say – "Hey, it's not want the Americans want". How the heck do they know? I don't recall anyone asking me.

    So tired of all this.
    Regardless of all this rhetoric – I Love My Country

    January 25, 2011 11:07 pm at 11:07 pm |
  22. Rhenier Labuschagne

    Wow, what an inspiring speech. I really hope this hit home. We would like to see the American people prosper once again. You cannot spend or borrow your way out of debt, simple as that. Perhaps it is time to stop building military bases all over the world and start educating those troops to be the next pioneers of innovation. God bless the american citizens. May they live free lives, no longer shackled by fear but hopeful of a better tomorrow.

    January 25, 2011 11:07 pm at 11:07 pm |
  23. anytruthleft

    President Obama has grand ideas and paints a beautiful picture of an America that I think many of us desire. I don't think that these ideas are "too much" for our government to handle because according to him, we the people will help to secure them. If we can become the nation of educated innovators and wise businesspeople set forth in his speech, we'll have a better chance at getting on the right track.

    It took almost ten years to put this country into the negative position it is in now – and yet only two years have passed since the president's election. Our government needs more time to heal the damage; at least the same amount of time that passed to cause it. This government needs both time and the change that has been spoken of so passionately. If that change means that the power it has must grow, then let it be so; but only if the increase in power favors the citizen. There should be nothing to fear from a large government that has the common person's well being in mind.

    Here's to hoping our country bands together to face this coming future with a positive outlook.

    January 25, 2011 11:07 pm at 11:07 pm |
  24. Ryan Cramer

    the reason the unemployment rate is still the same is that technology is making us more efficient. his call for becoming the most innovative country is on point. We need tax incentives for companys to BUILD and MANUFACTURE HERE!!! Plain and simple. Technology is making us more productive, but at the cost of jobs, so we need to give companies better tax rates if they are producing here. Technology will move us forward, but not when we are reliant on other countries making our goods.

    January 25, 2011 11:07 pm at 11:07 pm |
  25. S.B. Stein E.B. NJ

    Free enterprise could work in an ideal world. I have to say that this isn't an ideal world. People can't always pull themselves up by their bootstraps because the straps are too small or they have no boots to begin with. Deregulation of the stockmarket lead to much of the collapse. Because there are those that want to make money only for themselves and have little regard for the consequences, we need regulations to help protect those that can't do it for themselves.

    January 25, 2011 11:09 pm at 11:09 pm |
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