House Budget Committee Hearing: Removing the Barriers to Free Enterprise and Economic Growth

Chairman Paul Ryan – Opening Remarks, As Prepared for Delivery

Welcome all to the House Budget Committee for this hearing on one of the key threats posed to our free enterprise system: the growing cronyism in Washington and government-imposed barriers to upward mobility.

While we’re dealing with tough economic times, Americans still live in the most prosperous and dynamic country in the world. Our free enterprise system has lifted millions from the grips of poverty – a record of success that is increasingly challenged by the corrosive influence of Washington’s misguided policies.

Over the years, both parties have pursued deficit-driven spending aimed directly at favored companies, tax carve outs for the well-connected, and regulatory barriers that stack the deck against the average citizen. This creates a rigged game where success is too often determined not by the quality of service or products a business provides but by their relationships to those in power in Washington.

Both parties share in the blame, I believe both parties must work together to advance solutions to get us back on track. To that end, we passed a budget in the House that lifts the debt, strengthens the safety net for those who need it, and eliminates corporate welfare for those who don’t. Our pro-growth tax reforms ensure a level playing field for all to prosper.

Regrettably, the President’s policies take us in the wrong direction. He has called for higher hurdles and greater complexity in the tax code. He insists on wasteful spending on his political allies and regulatory monstrosities that protect the entrenched at the expense of the entrepreneur.

We’ve seen the results of this type of government-centered society in Europe. Massive spending, high taxes and corporate favoritism have burdened the continent with crushing debt loads and economies unable to grow. America is not destined to this same kind of future if we give our people the freedom to succeed and prosper.

Today’s hearing is an effort to explore how we can advance reforms consistent with our timeless principles and match the magnitude of today’s challenges. We can – and we must – restore America’s exceptional promise: ensuring all citizens are guaranteed the freedom to pursue their dreams, and making certain we leave the next generation with a stronger, more prosperous America.

I want to thank our three witnesses for joining us today.

First of all, I want to thank former Governor Jeb Bush of Florida for traveling to be here with us. You’ve been an outspoken advocate on restoring government’s proper role so that all Americans – especially the least among us – have the opportunity to rise.

Chris Edwards is the Director of Tax Policy Studies at the Cato Institute. Chris has been a longtime advocate for a fairer and simpler tax code, and an insightful critic on the mess of subsidies and special interest favoritism in how Washington spends hard-earned taxpayer dollars.

And we welcome our colleague, Congressman Henry Waxman, the Ranking Member of the Energy & Commerce Committee. You’ve been a strong legislative leader for your party, and we appreciate your taking part in today’s hearing.

Thank you all for joining us today, and we look forward to a thoughtful discussion.

With that, I yield to the Ranking Member, Mr. Van Hollen.