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

    Yo Ryan, where's your numbers that Health Care Reform is ballooning the deficit. I'd be ok if I saw them, but you make it sound like I have to take your word on the matter.

    January 26, 2011 12:05 am at 12:05 am |
  2. Wenceslao Zingapan

    For once... Let us be united regardless what we believe. This can happen if you make it happen. No more words, no more debates, lets just do it! God bless America and our troops!!

    January 26, 2011 12:12 am at 12:12 am |
  3. Look at the facts not rhetoric

    "government shouldnt be picking winners and loosers" wat kind indiotic comment is this. this is exactly why ppl with half a brain or common sense reason can see the GOP are bereft of any ideas but sound bites and catch phrases.."job killer" "purnishing sucess" wat kinda ppl buy into this nonsense and really wat elected official even in his/her own self interest would wana purnish sucess. we need workable solutions and ideas not placards and poster signs!!

    January 26, 2011 12:17 am at 12:17 am |
  4. Cody

    So, Obama doesn't attack anyone, but acknowledges some of the mistakes he's made, and every time he talks about his plan, he says democrats and republicans. He doesn't differentiate.
    Here, all the GOP does is attack Obama and refer to what Republican's are going to do.

    Complete difference in rhetoric.

    January 26, 2011 12:17 am at 12:17 am |
  5. Steve

    So NOW the republicans are going to do something? What happened to the last two years?

    January 26, 2011 12:20 am at 12:20 am |
  6. 66Biker

    Typical Republicon rhetoric. When will the GOP take responsibility for what they caused? President Obama may not be doing the best job of fixing the problems caused by the Bush administration, but if they didn't make this mess in the first place, he wouldn't have had to try.

    January 26, 2011 12:42 am at 12:42 am |
  7. Juanita

    The Republican response was grim, dire and filled with doom and gloom. This is the time we need to be looking for fresh,innovative and workable solutions to an economic problem that is improving and will continue to do so if we stay positive and continue to implement new ideas.

    January 26, 2011 12:57 am at 12:57 am |
  8. Justin

    A republican talking about smaller government and less spending, but with no specific proposals.....Yawn.

    January 26, 2011 12:57 am at 12:57 am |
  9. gazivicious

    Is this the best Republicans had to put up against someone of Obama's caliber? They are in big big trouble.

    January 26, 2011 12:58 am at 12:58 am |
  10. Beeker25

    Here's my rebuttal response to Rep. Ryan.
    It seems Ryan is using recycled talking points on the need for fiscal responsibility when it was his party that created it for the past thirty years by fixing the tax codes that tip the tax burden from the wealthy to the middle class all in the name of trickled down economic promoted by Arthur Laffer. Even today he's still looking for validation of his theory.

    While it is true that both parties are directly responsible for the mess however it is the corporations' and special interest grouos' donations created the environment we are and it is not going away until it is truly fixed.

    Lastly the Republicans have not apologized to the American people for the deregulatory mess that spawned the Great Recession with it 9% unemployment rate and shows no signs of going down for quite some time. Let's not forget that banks shares that responsibilty for it and fix it on their own.

    Thank you and good night.

    January 26, 2011 01:25 am at 1:25 am |
  11. Spending our Way to the Scrap Heap of History

    Excellent response to the clueless Obama with regards to this country's fiscal choices. Obama wants stick his head up his behind, pretend nothing is wrong and spend more on new programs. Ryan wants to tackle the problem and solve it. I wish Ryan was in the Whitehouse instead of this clueless idiot.

    January 26, 2011 01:29 am at 1:29 am |
  12. Ruben Rivera III

    I did not read this entire speech, and I probrably should before I make my comment, but I am not.
    Rep Paul Ryan in this Photo and on T.V. appears to be a disturbed individual.

    January 26, 2011 01:42 am at 1:42 am |
  13. scott h

    Clearly Mr Ryan thinks everyone has a bad memory and forgets that it was GWB who started us down this path of financial crisis with all the wars he started, that Sir is the #1 reason we are in the shape we are and it was YOUR party that put us there. Time to place responsibilty where it belongs!!

    January 26, 2011 01:50 am at 1:50 am |
  14. Charles Taylor

    An outstanding speech by Congressman Paul Ryan. He has laid out a course for us to follow to restore vitality to our economy without sacrificing our freedoms. God Bless Paul Ryan !

    January 26, 2011 01:53 am at 1:53 am |
  15. BeckFastPaws

    Wow. Ryan speaks like a Liberal. I guess you really can have liberals in the GOP.

    January 26, 2011 01:54 am at 1:54 am |
  16. CBR

    Representative Ryan makes the case that we should reduce the size and scope of our government. Unfortunately he does not recognize the role that the Republicans had in creating this increase. Statistics do not lie.

    The financial help available to states was necessary. Those states that used the funds wisely put some of their people back to work. Some of the infrastructure was rebuilt. Yes, it was expensive. Yes, we are paying for it. However, the Republican idea that this was bad is their opinion. We had to spend money to make money.

    Rep. Ryan's speech was was good but the speech does not include how their ideas will be implemented. We need the basic information and we need to know what will be done.

    The two parties have a chance to work together for the common good. Let us all hope this happens.

    January 26, 2011 02:14 am at 2:14 am |
  17. Marin Juvete

    I have seen this bullshiit before. But I have never believed I will see it in the US of A. Now I saw it. I see also how this country is petting the chinese. Just look at the commercials on CNN. Money to be the cause ? Hm, where the principles are ? Oh, yeah, USA has forgot about them. They take them from the "locked box" when it is convenient to the INS, and they drop them back in the same box when is also...convenient to them.
    Just Sick and tired. Because USA doesn't have to give lessons to anyone, anymore ! Many of us were almost to dye for a FREEDOM idea. I see it just doesn't matter anymore. Shame !

    January 26, 2011 02:15 am at 2:15 am |
  18. anthony

    He was condescending, insincere, his eyes were bloodshot and his tan was orange. Is this guy a Bohner in training? How these guys lie through thier teeth and give no detailed solutions to how THEY would actually fix anything is beyond me.
    Im waiting for the media to call him out on it, but thats like waiting for pigs to fly...

    January 26, 2011 02:21 am at 2:21 am |
  19. Nothing said!

    Read the comments carefully. Nothing was said of substance. I hope that in the comind weeks, we see substantive effort by our "elected" leaders to actually move this country along a path that Americans can feel comfortable with. A great starting point would be to carefully examine the relationship between military contractors and Congress. If you are looking to trim fat, that is the biggest pig on the block.

    January 26, 2011 02:28 am at 2:28 am |
  20. Patriots Salute the Flag! Traitors don't!!!

    I'm holding you accountable for not giving the Tea Party representative the same national air time that you were given. Everyone knows what Obama is. Are you people scared to impeach him because he is black or you just plain chicken. You know he is out to destroy this country and you're letting him. DO SOMETHING ANYTHING NOW.

    January 26, 2011 03:12 am at 3:12 am |
  21. Christina Anthony

    its utterly amazing how every effort seems to be just to go all out and destroy the ruling party's position. it doesn't even remotely matter if the plans in place need time to create a results. The main intent is cause confusion, distract from the solution and ensure its derailed. IF this is really the beauty of Democracy, then it's truly downright ugly.

    January 26, 2011 03:17 am at 3:17 am |
  22. Name king

    Mr Ryan I Joe you've got better sence than than you partner miss baukman. America is running a co
    Petition with the Chinese the Indians and most of the developing world, big corporations are not bound to America any more they are bound to the world, They are a world capitalism entity now. Why you think they keep screaming deregulation. If you take away Americas fregling demand power from us, big businesses will take their businesses to china if they don't their CO will be looking for a job somewhere else, people are in big business to make money not for patriotism as some will. Allow the ignorant to think. The only thing America has going for us right now is our shaky demand power, if we lose that, big corporations will take their businesses else where robbing our economy of; jobs, revenues, and confidence. This will have a domino affect sending our economy back where the dems just got us from. And I doubt if we have the will, or the personnel, ( with the congress change) to bring us back again, not with our government depleted budgets. You cannot start cutting money from the spenders and stimulus drivers in the economy, and leave the arm forces, who spend most of their pay checks buying stuff over seas in other people's country, building up their economies. Why do we have so much bases over seas any way. All I am saying be careful of what you cut and how much, that means taking ideology out of the equation, and cut the things that will not be destructive to our recovery.

    January 26, 2011 06:17 am at 6:17 am |
  23. D. Bunker

    Nice little dodge tucked in there, Mr. Ryan. While no one party is responsible for ALL the deficit, the VAST MAJORITY of that deficit is due to you reckless neocons and Friedman/Rand cultists with your "off the books" wars of choice and your tax cuts for the ultrarich that NEVER pay for themselves in terms of making up lost revenue. So spare us all more of your GOBP nonsense.

    January 26, 2011 07:13 am at 7:13 am |
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