U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI)
Chairman, House Budget Committee
2013 Conservative Political Action Conference
March 15, 2013

Thanks, everybody.  Thanks.  Appreciate it.  Hey, Michele, how're you doing?.  How about it for Janesville, Wisconsin.  Thanks for that shout out.  I appreciate that.  That's great.

Hey, I am so happy to be here. You know we all need a break from the mess in Washington. And I've just got to say, it is nice to be in a room full of conservatives for a change.

Thank you.  It’s a time to take stock, to catch up with friends, and to plan for the future. So I am grateful for the chance to speak with you and thanks for this opportunity.

You know this has been a really big week. We got white smoke from the Vatican—and we got a budget from the Senate. The Senate, they call their budget a Foundation for Growth: Restoring the Promise of American Opportunity. Wow, I feel like saluting already. But when you read it, you find the Vatican’s not the only place blowing smoke this week. You see the Democrats, they call their budget a balanced approach. The thing is—they never balance the budget—ever. In fact, they call for another trillion-dollar plus tax hike on top of even more spending.  If we did nothing, meaning not pass their budget, the government would save money.
Look.  We take the opposite approach. I am proud of our budget—because it’s changed the conversation. Today, we’re not talking about cliffs or ceilings or sequesters. We’re talking about solutions. And that’s how it should be. Our budget expands opportunity by growing the economy. It strengthens the safety net by retooling government, and it restores fairness by ending cronyism. And by setting priorities and choosing wisely, we have a plan to pay off our debt. In fact, we balance the budget in ten years—without raising taxes.
How do we do this? You know it’s pretty simple: We stop spending money we don’t have. Go figure.

You know, historically, we’ve paid a little less than one-fifth of our income in taxes to the federal government each year. But the government has spent a lot more. So our budget matches spending with income. We say to Washington, “What we are willing to pay is what you’re able to spend. Period.” Every family lives within a budget. Washington should do the same thing.
The crucial question isn’t how we balance the budget. It’s why we balance the budget. The budget is a means to an end. We’re not balancing the budget as an accounting exercise. We’re not just trying to make the numbers add up. We are trying to improve people’s lives. Our debt is a threat to this country. We have to tackle this problem before it tackles us. So today I want to make the case for balance. That case—in a nutshell—is that a balanced budget will promote a healthier economy. It will create jobs. And nothing is more urgent than that.
Just look at where we are—and where we’re going. Last quarter, the economy grew by a hair. Unemployment is 7.7 percent. 46 million people are living in poverty today in America The President says we’re in a recovery. I’d say we’re in critical care. Look at where we're going. Farther down the road, things will get worse. By the end of 2023, the economy will be at a crawl. We will have added $8 trillion to our debt. The debt will weigh down the country like an anchor.
In short, we’re on the verge of a debt crisis. Our obligations are growing faster than our ability to pay them. Our deb, it's already bigger than our economy. At some point, lenders will lose confidence in us. They will demand higher interest rates. And when they do, interest rates across the country will skyrocket—on mortgages, on credit cards, on car loans. And then, pressed for cash, the government will take the easy way out: It will crank up the printing presses. The dollar would sink. Our finances would collapse. The safety net would unravel. And the most vulnerable? They would suffer the most.
A debt crisis would be more than an economic event. It would be a moral failure. You see, by cheapening our currency, government would cheat us of our just rewards. Even now, we’re hurting American working families. By living beyond our means, the government is sending us a message. It’s saying, “If you plan ahead—if you make sacrifices for your kids—if you save—you’re a sucker.” It is brazenly stealing from our children. And it has to stop.
We know what the problem is. Our economy needs growth. Our entitlements need repair. They’re creaking under the pressure of growing health-care costs and an aging population. In just ten years, spending on Medicare and Social Security will double. Spending on interest will quadruple. No amount of taxes can prop this up. Even with President Obama’s tax hikes, the deficit will be nearly $1 trillion in 2023. The answer is very clear: We have to fix our entitlements. We have to grow the economy.
Look, our budget takes these necessary steps. But it also confronts a broader challenge. Our debt, it's a sign of overreach. It’s a sign the federal government is doing too much. And when government does too much, it doesn’t do anything well. We need to make this point more often: We don’t see the debt as an excuse to cut with abandon—to shirk our obligations. We see it as an opportunity to reform government—to make it leaner and more effective. That's what we ought to be doing right now.  That's what conservatives stand for; that's who we are. A balanced budget is a reasonable goal—because it returns government to its proper limits and focus.
When government overreaches, it doesn’t hurt just our pay checks. It hurts our quality of life. We need to make room for community—for that vast middle ground between the government and the individual. We need to remember that people don’t find happiness in grim isolation or by government fiat. They find it through friendship—through free, vibrant exchange with people around them. They find it through achievement. They find it in their families, in their neighborhoods, their churches, their youth groups. They find it in a healthy mix of self-fulfillment and of belonging.
We belong to one country. But we also belong to thousands of communities—each of them rich in tradition. And these communities, they don’t obstruct our personal growth. They encourage it. They are where we live our lives. So the duty of government isn’t to displace these communities, but to support them. It isn’t to blunt their differences or to flatten their character or to mash them together into some dull conformity. It’s to secure our individual rights and to protect that diversity.  That is the duty of government.
Our vision, our budget makes room for these communities to grow, so the people in them have room to thrive. We can’t just talk about these communities. We have to talk with them. We have to engage them—because leaders, leaders don’t just speak up. They listen too. And if we listen more closely to the people, we will find that the answers to our problems lie a whole lot closer to home, a whole lot closer than Washington, DC.
Let me tell you a story. Last month, I went to Milwaukee.  I met a guy named Leroy Maclin. When Leroy was 14, he was convicted of a felony—and abandoned by his family. Now, he’s 27. He’s got a job at an incredible organization called Milwaukee Working. It’s a nonprofit in the inner city started by a suburban church that sells donated goods on Amazon. No government agency built this company. No law forced these people to help each other. They came together on their own. They saw a need. And they met that need.
Look at the results in this one life: Today, Leroy turned his life around. He’s providing for his sons. And he’s an example for us all. You see work gives people more than a paycheck. It gives them a sense of purpose—a sense of pride. It makes them a part of their community. It gives them the dignity that we all deserve, and we can never forget this essential fact.  Work is good.  Work is dignified.
When we try to help struggling families, we should listen to people like Leroy—because they remind us that every life has the potential for redemption. Their example must inform our approach. And government, government must work with them, not against them.
But before all else, government must work. It must function.  The government must function because chaos is fertile soil for liberalism. When politicians budget by crisis, what happens? They make deals in the dead of night—far away from public view. Lobbyists sneak in their pet projects. And government grows. Cronyism spreads. It crowds out our communities. And as it lurches from crisis to crisis, it freezes people in fear. In effect, we levy an uncertainty tax on everyone in the nation. We make it impossible for them to plan for the future.
Our budget offers an end to the brinkmanship. It restores regular order. We trim the government back to its proper size. We balance the budget. We give our communities the space that they need to thrive. And we do it all out in the open—just as our Founders envisioned.
The other side can join us in this common-sense goal. Or they can choose the status quo. But they must choose. They can no longer hide behind inaction. The American people deserve an honest account of our challenges—and what is needed to confront them.
We don’t hide our beliefs. We argue for them—because a budget is more than just a list of numbers. It’s an expression of our governing philosophy. And our budget draws a very sharp contrast with the Left. It says to the people—in unmistakable terms—‘They are the party of shared hardship. We are the party of equal opportunity.’

The future's bright.  It's right in front of us.  We can do this.  We need your help; we appreciate your support.

Thank you so much.  Go get 'em, alright everybody?  God bless you guys.  Thank you so much.