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Paul Ryan on Health Care and the Steep Climb to Reclaim the American Idea
U.S. House of Representatives – Floor debate on H.R. 3590 and H.R. 4872

Washington, Mar 21 -

Madam speaker, there is a lot wrong with this bill

We know the problems with its cost. We know it doesn’t really reduce the deficit. We know that it increases health care premiums. The CBO has given us all of this
information and it’s clear that what we have is a bill chock full of gimmicks and hidden mandates.

So I’m not going to get into all of that again.

But what I will ask is this: why has this decision become so personal to our constituents? Why are so many people swarming the Capitol over this? Why have we received 100,000 calls an hour from all over the country?

It is because health care affects every one of us. And yet, here we are, debating whether the government should have a bigger role in making those personal decisions.

So make no mistake about it. We’re not just here to pass a healthcare bill. We are being asked to make a choice about the future path of this country.

The speakers to my left are correct: this is history. Today marks a major turning point in American history. This is really not a debate about prices, coverage, or choosing doctors.

This is ultimately about what kind of country we are going to be in the 21st century.

America is not just a nationality – it’s not just a mass of land from Hawaii to Maine, from Wisconsin to Florida. America is an idea. It’s the most pro-human idea ever designed by mankind.

Our founders got it right, when they wrote in the Declaration of Independence that our rights come from nature and nature's God - - not from government.

Should we now subscribe to an ideology where government creates rights, is solely responsible for delivering these artificial rights, and then systematically rations these rights?

Do we believe that the goal of government is to promote equal opportunity for all Americans to make the most of their lives - - or do we now believe that government’s role is to equalize the results of people’s lives?

The philosophy advanced on the floor by the Majority today is so paternalistic, and so arrogant. It’s condescending. And it tramples upon the principles that have made America so exceptional.

My friends, we are fast approaching a tipping point where more Americans depend on the federal government than on themselves for their livelihoods -- a point where we, the
American people, trade in our commitment and our concern for our individual liberties in exchange for government benefits and dependencies.

More to the point, Madam Speaker, we have seen this movie before, and we know how it ends. The European social welfare state promoted by this legislation is not sustainable.

This is not who we are and it is not who we should become.

As we march toward this tipping point of dependency, we are also accelerating toward a debt crisis – a debt crisis that is the result of politicians of the past making promises we simply cannot afford to keep. Déjà vu all over again.

It is unconscionable what we are leaving the next generation.

This moment may mark a temporary conclusion of the health care debate - but its place in history has not yet been decided. If this passes, the quest to reclaim the American idea is not over. The fight to reapply our founding principles is not finished, it’s just a steeper climb. And it is a climb that we will make.

On this issue - - more than any other issue we have ever seen here - - the American people are engaged. From our town hall meetings, to Scott Brown’s victory in Massachusetts, you have made your voices heard. And some of us are listening to you.

My colleagues, let’s bring down this bill - - and bring back the ideas that made this country great!