Paul Ryan: A budget that trusts the American people


Mr. Chairman, we are bearing witness to history this week.

Across the street, we are witnessing what could be the end of bureaucrat-controlled health care. What we are on the verge of witnessing is a powerful reaffirmation of the American idea. And we are finally having the debate we need to have.

Our rights come to us naturally. They come from God and nature, not from government. This health care law is the latest and perfect example of the notion that government is now needed to grant us new rights. And if that is the case, then government has authority to ration, regulate, and redistribute exactly how we exercise these new rights like health care. And if these new government granted rights conflict with our constitutional rights and liberties, well then such is the sacrifice needed in the name of progress – or so the thinking goes.

Across the street, we are witnessing what could be a rejection of this line of thinking. The new health care law – which asserts unlimited power for the federal government to decide for Americans how they should go about getting their health care – simply is not compatible with the constitution.

But the justices who are considering this case, they’ve raised a very good point. If this is the end of bureaucrat-controlled health care, what comes next? And if you listen to them, you may hear a pretty dim view of Congress’s ability to solve this problem.

With respect, I would suggest that they take a look at what we are accomplishing here in this body today. Here, in this chamber, we are witnessing the growing momentum of a new approach – one that maintains a critical role for government but ultimately puts the American people in charge where they belong.

For the second year in a row, we are passing a budget that outlines a new approach for Medicare. We keep the protections that made Medicare a guaranteed promise for seniors throughout the years. But this is what we say to bureaucrats who have mismanaged this program into bankruptcy: Enough. Your approach doesn’t work.

Government has never come up with the magic formula to micromanage America, let alone lower costs and improve quality. It’s time to put 50 million seniors, not 15 bureaucrats, in charge of their own health care decisions. Forcing insurance companies to compete – that’s the only way to guarantee quality affordable health care for seniors that lasts for generations. That’s the answer to what comes next.

Let’s keep building on the growing bipartisan consensus on how to improve patient-centered health care reform.

But putting our trust in Americans, it goes beyond health care. It is what this entire budget is all about.  We get government bureaucrats out of the business of picking winners and losers in the economy. Because Americans should make their own decisions about what kind of car they drive or what kind of light bulb they use.

And we give power over the safety-net programs to the states, because we believe the governments that are closest to the people are in the best position to design programs for their unique communities to get people into lives of self-sufficiency and upward mobility.

When we lower tax rates by closing special-interest loopholes, we’re saying we in Washington don’t need to micromanage people’s decisions through the tax code. Let people keep more of their hard-earned dollars. Let them decide how to spend it.

Economic growth, jobs, upward mobility, opportunity: These are what we are striving for, just like our parents did for us.

It is so rare in American politics to arrive at a moment in which the debate revolves around the fundamental nature of American democracy and the social contract. But that is exactly where we are today.

One approach gives more power to unelected bureaucrats, takes more from hard-working taxpayers to fuel the expansion of government, and commits our nation to a future of debt and decline. This approach is proving unworkable – in Congress, in our courts, and in our communities.

The contrast with our budget couldn’t be any clearer: We put our trust in citizens, not in government. Our budget returns power to individuals, to families, and to communities.

As these choices become clear, today’s budget is a vote of confidence in the American experiment: We think that putting our trust in the American people will renew their trust in us. We think Americans should control their destinies – and we trust them to make the right choice about the future of our country. Mr. Chairman, we think America is on the wrong track. We believe the President is bringing us toward a debt crisis and a welfare state in decline.

We are offering the nation a choice. We are offering the nation a better way forward. And we are offering the nation a plan to renew America and the American Idea.