House Budget Committee Hearing: Lifting the Crushing Burden of Debt

Chairman Paul Ryan – Opening Remarks As Prepared for Delivery

Welcome all, to this important hearing on the future of our country.

We here in Congress have our differences over how to solve our most urgent fiscal challenges.

But I don’t think there is any serious debate over the urgency of these challenges.

I doubt anyone here would dispute the fact that, if we fail to act, we are inviting a debt crisis with potentially catastrophic consequences.

Those seeking to cling to our unsustainable status quo are, quite frankly, putting us at the greatest risk.

Erskine Bowles, the co-chairman of the President’s fiscal commission, said it best: “The era of deficit denial is over.”

The failure to address the structural drivers of our debt has been a bipartisan failure over the years, yet the gusher of government spending and the creation of new open-ended health care entitlements turned a fiscal challenge into a fiscal crisis.

The White House appears to acknowledge the problem, but seems determined to avoid tackling it. 

The latest budget proposal from the Obama Administration not only fails to address the drivers of our debt, but accelerates us down our unsustainable path. It would impose growth-killing tax hikes and lock in Washington’s reckless spending spree. Its claimed savings amount to little more than slogans and budget gimmicks. 

The status quo, which the President’s budget commits us to, threatens not only our livelihoods, but also our way of life.  We must work together to lift this crushing burden of debt.

The good news is this: We still have time to address the drivers of our debt and save our nation from bankruptcy.  

We have several expert witnesses here today who will help us get our arms around the problem. I appreciate your testifying today before this committee on the difficulty of the climb ahead and the consequences of inaction.

It will be difficult, but it is a climb we must make.

The stakes in this challenge are no less than the unique American legacy of bequeathing to our children a more prosperous nation than the one we inherited.

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