In defense of his plan to cut some $4.4 trillion in federal spending over the next decade, Wisconsin Republican Paul Ryan said at the American Enterprise Institute today that America is at a “tipping point” in its debt crisis. Unless serious spending reductions are enacted soon, he warned, it could “curtail free enterprise” and hasten both a moral and political decline “as dependency and passivity weaken the nation’s character.”
The Republican spending plan introduced by Ryan would achieve some $4.4 trillion in cuts from the president’s budget over the next ten years. It includes $6.2 trillion in deficit reduction over the same period compared to the administration’s proposed $1.1 trillion.
Barack Obama’s budget was criticized by fiscal conservatives for its utter lack of entitlement reforms. The major health care and unemployment support programs account for the bulk of federal spending. Their costs are expected to skyrocket in years ahead unless their scope is significantly reduced.
Ryan’s budget would transform Medicare for the elderly in a “premium support” program which subsidizes seniors’ health plan of choice. By introducing competition in the scheme, such a reform measure would encourage health-care providers to enhance quality while reducing inefficiencies.
The growth of Medicaid, the health support program for the poor, would be reduced by block granting spending to individual states, forcing them to rein in costs however they see fit.
The chairman of the House budget committee has consistently championed more choice for citizens as a way to combat the entitlement mentality which he fears is wrecking the very nature of the American experiment.
Speaking out against health-care reform last year, Ryan wondered aloud whether the country should “subscribe to an ideology where government creates rights, is solely responsible for delivering these artificial rights, and then systematically rations these rights?”
Do we believe that the goal of government is to promote equal opportunity for all Americans to make the most of their lives — or do we now believe that government’s role is to equalize the results of peoples’ lives?
The latter seems to be the philosophy of the modern day Democratic Party. As Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said earlier this year, “in America, we give our citizens rights. We don’t take them away.”
According to Ryan — and the Declaration of Independence — rights are inherent to human nature. To pretend that it is the purview of government to distribute rights and happiness is “paternalistic” and “condescending,” he said last year and it “tramples upon the principles that have made America so exceptional.”
The Republican budget, by contrast, “charts a new path,” Ryan told the American Enterprise Institute.
It represents a new federal commitment, assuring this nation’s workers, investors and entrepreneurs that the new House majority recognizes the threat that unlimited government poses to the American way of life.