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. ADF

    So what's one of the first accomplishments of the Republicans, cutting taxes for the top 2% of the richest Americans and adding greatly to the deficit (not learning from the previous 10 years of those cuts being in place without job growth). Next, they said their focus was on what did they do? Waste time in the House voting to repeal the Affordable Healthcare Act. All the while, filibustering everything over the past two years. Well, where is that focus on jobs they campaigned on? We the people deserve more than lies (death panels, yadda yadda yadda)...time to get to work to accomplish some things. Yeah, the clock is ticking...

    January 25, 2011 10:37 pm at 10:37 pm |
  2. Dave R.

    The facts are clear that you choose to ignore the facts. It was your buddy Bush that ran this country into the gound. Your proposals will only make matters worse!!

    January 25, 2011 10:37 pm at 10:37 pm |
  3. superduperman

    This speech was a joke. The republican party and their policies got us into the mess in the first place. He did not say anything that will push this country forward. It was simply more finger pointing and no viable solutions.

    January 25, 2011 10:37 pm at 10:37 pm |
  4. pj

    Why is he trying to scare the hake out of people without regulation corporation will rob people blind.

    January 25, 2011 10:38 pm at 10:38 pm |
  5. Marianna Malaspina

    Mr. Chairman,

    I believe your coverage of who is responsible for the shamble we are in has been nonchalant to say the least.
    We are where we are – with a financial system and corporations which are controlling my life (by poisoning the soil and the food I eat, but making helathy food triple as expensive as junk food, by deciding on the spur of the moment to cut thousands of jos and moving them abroad, by increasing private education costs with no valid alternative in public education, by literally dominating my future with a monopoly of the financial system which has only increased now that thousands of banks have collapsed) – precisely because for 30 years we had a republican Government which either spent trillions for wars in defense of the private interests of the President and his clique of oil people or cooperated so much with the financial industry to create a de facto semi-partnership. So please: let President Obama administration clean the mess first. he not only finds a situatino where for decades vision has been so myopic to have completely missed the rise of China, but also the debacle of 30 years of a future oriented internal policy. I think we have been blessed to have someone in Government like him. I can not imagine to think what would have happened if budget fanatics had had their ways: we would have had tens of millions crowding the bridges for shelter. A great way to balance a budget, after having collapsed decades of savings of the same people.

    January 25, 2011 10:38 pm at 10:38 pm |
  6. 2112Starman

    The republican response: Its all Obama's fault for spending 2 trillion to pull the country out of the largest recession in history however we are spewing crud about no-spending however toke no reducibility for the fact that they created 83% of our current debt. More doom and gloom and finger pointing... blaming the guy in office for 2 years when this was created by their policies over the past 40.

    January 25, 2011 10:38 pm at 10:38 pm |
  7. Tim

    The blame game at its best. However, the word I did not see is us. Both parties working together, taking responsibility fro their screw ups and actions, and actually doing their contract jobs, and that is what they are....Temp workers working on a contract. Everyone meet in the middle and get crap worked out...

    January 25, 2011 10:39 pm at 10:39 pm |
  8. Conrad Baines

    Nothing like being right. Paul Ryan at least calls things for what they are.

    January 25, 2011 10:39 pm at 10:39 pm |
  9. MJ

    So... What were his points again??? I must have missed them in all the talking points and nice sounding stuff... Sure Obama was not incredibly specific, but this speech has almost no content at all.

    January 25, 2011 10:40 pm at 10:40 pm |
  10. Sir Mac

    A challenge to all politicians – talk in terms of solutions – not what is wrong, bad and the other parties fault. Talk the win-win and cooperation because the enemy is negative energy that blocks the road to success for us all.

    January 25, 2011 10:41 pm at 10:41 pm |
  11. Cal

    If Paul Ryan gets his way, we will be Somalia. No government and run by pirates. David Gergen is a retard who agrees
    that America should be like Somalia.

    January 25, 2011 10:41 pm at 10:41 pm |
  12. ExLonghorn

    Bummer. Politics again. Look, I'm an independent, but I'm seeing these folks talking past each other again. Obama correctly points out that government-sponsored basic research has helped stimulate whole new industries. Then Rep. Ryan comes on and says in a blanket statement NO, must cut taxes and shrink government. BWAAAA. Can't we do both? If we shifted just 5% of what we buy from overseas producers to American producers, we absolutely CAN do both. We...use individual Americans...need to make better choices and vote with our wallets. Turn away from cheap Wal-Mart foreign-made goods and invest in quality goods and services Made In America.

    January 25, 2011 10:42 pm at 10:42 pm |
  13. Carol

    The Prresidents speech was so uplifting and right on. The response from Ryan was so downbeat from the Repullican side that I turned him off. Who needs to hear all the same complaints that have been said over and over by his side? Didn't he comprehend his Presidents speech and intent for change? As a memeber of the U.S.A. I am tired of this rhetoric from the Republicans. The citizens want both sides to work together, just as President Obama asked tonight. They should have gotten someone with more comprehension and optimism to give their Republicans sides take on the State of the Union Speech.

    January 25, 2011 10:43 pm at 10:43 pm |
  14. Sblackburn

    Seriously disappointed in CNN for granting the platform for Michelle Bachmann and the Tea Party. CNN is validating the Tea Party Republicans as a powerful entity, which makes me, and most people feel sick. CNN, please think about your role in encouraging and maintaining this nonsense. GOP already had a response. We got it. Just say no to the Tea Party, CNN.

    January 25, 2011 10:44 pm at 10:44 pm |
  15. bob

    And who is Ryan -elected by 100,00 people in a nation of millions – it's a presidential state of the union -nuff said – why do we a counter point by a persons only versed in party politics from a little bitty part of america – maybe Mr Ryan should put whatever he has on the same stage and be sucessful and have the support Obama recieved – I have no respect no do I care to ear what a person elected by such a small minototy of our country has to say
    It's all sidestage – insanity

    January 25, 2011 10:44 pm at 10:44 pm |
  16. Julia Baten

    This guy was talking to himself, almost like he was looking at his mirror and loving himself for being a politician. For all their rethoric, republicans are wasting tax dollars trying to repeal health care much needed for all instead of trying to change certain things that aren't just right. To repeal health care means that we will never go back to protect the people from the greed of insurance companies. They invest billions in campaigns to secure GOPs in the House and Senate. They are not interest in what is good for the people but to their pockets. Don't be fooled GOPs won't come back with a new Health care that is good for the people!

    January 25, 2011 10:44 pm at 10:44 pm |
  17. L Fields

    "These are not easy times" is what Mr. Ryan says. Times are not easy because the previous Republican administrations spent money like there was no tomorrow. They took every dime America had in the bank and created a mountain of debt. They oversaw the subprime housing crisis, the almost collapse of GM and I suppose we are still looking for the Weapons of Mass Destruction because we are still paying for that mess. I find it hard to believe that Republicans can speak about not spending when there whole administration's policy's where based around "just print some more money and spend it"

    January 25, 2011 10:45 pm at 10:45 pm |
  18. one voice

    Paul RYAN told several OUT RIGHT LIES this evening, you don't believe me? GOOGLE IT.

    January 25, 2011 10:45 pm at 10:45 pm |
  19. socal frank

    now we know why they call it re-BUTT-al

    January 25, 2011 10:46 pm at 10:46 pm |
  20. Gloom and Doom!

    After President Obama's speech seemed so Gloomy and Doom. It almost seemed like he had NO BELIEF in American overcoming. He was basically saying "If you don't cut spending you might as well and go to a back alley and shoot yourself". I thought it was quite bad actually. Actually worse than Bobby Jindel's last year. Yes optics were bad for Jindel but Ryan's speech had no details ONLY death, despair, gloom and doom.

    January 25, 2011 10:47 pm at 10:47 pm |
  21. SAW123

    Two observations:

    Small government allowed the economic damage caused by those on wall street.

    2) Trust us (the republicans), if we repeal health care we will replace it with something better, but we won't tell you what it will be or how it will work.

    January 25, 2011 10:48 pm at 10:48 pm |
  22. Lzn

    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.

    Rep Ryan his Republican colleagues should perhaps do more research. The Irish economic problems are a direct result of the exact light-tough regulation and unrestricted laissez-faire policies (as applied to banking and the construction industry) that he and his colleagues espouse.

    January 25, 2011 10:48 pm at 10:48 pm |
  23. NamePaul

    Republicans are just saying the same old thing. We need to get back. Get back to what BUSH who caused this mess. Try again buddy. Come up with something other that that

    January 25, 2011 10:49 pm at 10:49 pm |
  24. BruceFLL

    Nice words, no substance, no details as usual.
    pig in a poke as usual.

    January 25, 2011 10:49 pm at 10:49 pm |
  25. alicia

    Mr. Ryan – we are not republicans or democrats – we are Americans. You always say you'll cut, etc. etc. but the devil is in the details.....

    January 25, 2011 10:50 pm at 10:50 pm |
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