House Budget Committee Hearing: The President’s Fiscal Year 2012 Budget

Chairman Paul Ryan – Opening Remarks As Prepared for Delivery

Director Lew, welcome back.

The President is fortunate that you agreed to a return assignment to OMB under a darkening fiscal outlook. We are aware of the challenges you faced in putting this budget together, and we thank you for your hard work.

The Budget of the United States is about much more than arithmetic. It is a statement of national priorities – and a gauge of our nation’s health.

Because we face a crippling burden of debt, this year’s budget in particular presented the President with a unique opportunity to lead our country.

The President has disappointed us all by declining that opportunity.  He punted.

Instead of confronting our debt head on, the President has presented us with a budget that spends too much, borrows too much and taxes too much. His budget would double the amount of debt held by the public by the end of his term – and triple it by the tenth anniversary of his inauguration.

To be sure, our country was already on an unsustainable trajectory before he took office. Our debt is the product of acts by many presidents and many Congresses over many years. Both parties share the blame.

Nevertheless, this President’s policies have accelerated us down this disastrous path. He has made our spending problems worse with policies such as the failed stimulus and the new health care entitlement.

He has argued for massive tax increases that would stifle economic growth and make our fiscal picture worse — this budget alone contains $1.6 trillion in higher taxes on American families, businesses and entrepreneurs.

And on our nation’s most pressing fiscal challenges, the President has abdicated his leadership role. First, he punted to a bipartisan commission to develop solutions to the problem.

Then, when his own commission put forward a set of fundamental entitlement and tax reforms, he ignored them. Erskine Bowles, the Democratic chairman of the fiscal commission, said the White House budget request goes “nowhere near where they will have to go to resolve our fiscal nightmare.”

He even failed to take the commission’s advice on less sensitive subjects, such as discretionary spending: His budget would increase discretionary spending by $353 billion relative to the commission’s proposals.

The President’s budget disregards the drivers of our debt crisis and the insolvency of our entitlement programs.

Every day that passes without leadership on this crucial challenge is another day of uncertainty for job creators and darkening economic prospects for millions of Americas living in the shadow of our growing debt.

The politically safe response, I suppose, is to do nothing. Unfortunately, this is the path the President has chosen.

We feel that it’s our responsibility to do things differently – to lead where he has fallen short. And that’s exactly what we plan to do.

With that, I will yield to Ranking Member Van Hollen for an opening statement.