Review: Republican Rebuttal to the State of the Union, Paul Ryan

I’m sure most people are aware that there were actually two Republican rebuttals; the official one offered by Paul Ryan and the unofficial one offered by Michele Bachmann and the Tea Party. This is Paul Ryan’s. I’ll review Michele Bachmann’s tomorrow.

  • Speech: Republican Rebuttal to the State of the Union Address
  • Speaker: Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI)
  • Date: January 25, 2011

And away we go….

A few years ago, reducing spending was important. Today, it’s imperative. Here’s why.

We face a crushing burden of debt. The debt will soon eclipse our entire economy, and grow to catastrophic levels in the years ahead.

On this current path, when my three children – who are now 6, 7, and 8 years old – are raising their own children, the Federal government will double in size, and so will the taxes they pay.

No economy can sustain such high levels of debt and taxation. The next generation will inherit a stagnant economy and a diminished country.

Frankly, it’s one of my greatest concerns as a parent – and I know many of you feel the same way.

He began, as appropriate, speaking of Rep. Giffords and the victims of the shooting in Tucson, and quickly moved to a discussion of the national debt, which is not surprising given Rep. Ryan’s background. In large measure, I have long shared the concerns he does, and I’m just as eager as he is to see a resolution that provides for the long-term stability of this nation. I’ll be interested to see what kind of picture he paints for us…. The one President Obama painted was attractive–pie-in-the-sky but attractive.

Our debt is the product of acts by many presidents and many Congresses over many years. No one person or party is responsible for it.

There is no doubt the President came into office facing a severe fiscal and economic situation.

Unfortunately, instead of restoring the fundamentals of economic growth, he engaged in a stimulus spending spree that not only failed to deliver on its promise to create jobs, but also plunged us even deeper into debt.

The facts are clear: Since taking office, President Obama has signed into law spending increases of nearly 25% for domestic government agencies – an 84% increase when you include the failed stimulus.

All of this new government spending was sold as “investment.” Yet after two years, the unemployment rate remains above 9% and government has added over $3 trillion to our debt.

I’ve argued these exact points many times, and I agree with them. The level of “necessity” regarding the stimulus is debatable in my opinion, and I don’t know that we’ll ever fully understand or accurately guesstimate what the results would have been under any other action, but in light of what did happen, I must agree with Rep. Ryan–It was a failure.

Then the President and his party made matters even worse, by creating a new open-ended health care entitlement.

What we already know about the President’s health care law is this: Costs are going up, premiums are rising, and millions of people will lose the coverage they currently have. Job creation is being stifled by all of its taxes, penalties, mandates and fees.

Businesses and unions from around the country are asking the Obama Administration for waivers from the mandates. Washington should not be in the business of picking winners and losers. The President mentioned the need for regulatory reform to ease the burden on American businesses. We agree – and we think his health care law would be a great place to start.

And then he goes for the throat…. Again I agree. I hate Obamacare. I think it is one of the most dangerous pieces of legislation we’ve ever passed. I think it will cause significant problems down the road as entitlements continue to increase and expand.

Last week, House Republicans voted for a full repeal of this law, as we pledged to do, and we will work to replace it with fiscally responsible, patient-centered reforms that actually reduce costs and expand coverage.

Health care spending is driving the explosive growth of our debt. And the President’s law is accelerating our country toward bankruptcy.

This may surprise many people, but I actually oppose a full repeal. I think we’d get much more done going through the law piece by piece and working with each portion to create the optimum solution. See, I, like most Americans, believe that healthcare needed to be reformed, but I, like most, disagree with how it was done: behind closed door, with single-party input, and then rammed down our throats. A full repeal doesn’t heal that; it increases that and makes it worse.

Rep. Ryan is right that healthcare is dangerous and a primary cause of debt growth; however, I do not agree that a full repeal is necessary at this point. True, it would have been better if the bill would have been carefully scrutinized and reviewed before it passed, but that chance is gone.

Our debt is out of control. What was a fiscal challenge is now a fiscal crisis.

We cannot deny it; instead we must, as Americans, confront it responsibly.

I will be the first to admit that Rep. Ryan is very much one to make the crisis much worse than it really is. That being said, I’ll also be the first to say that I think he’s right. I personally believe that if this country does not change, we will look back at Rep. Ryan with the regret that we did not listen. Politicians are certainly given to their fair share of extreme statements, but this is accurate.

Americans are skeptical of both political parties, and that skepticism is justified – especially when it comes to spending. So hold all of us accountable.

In this very room, the House will produce, debate, and advance a budget. Last year – in an unprecedented failure- Congress chose not to pass, or even propose a budget. The spending spree continued unchecked.

Again, I agree.

We believe government’s role is both vital and limited – to defend the nation from attack and provide for the common defense … to secure our borders… to protect innocent life… to uphold our laws and Constitutional rights … to ensure domestic tranquility and equal opportunity … and to help provide a safety net for those who cannot provide for themselves.

We believe that the government has an important role to create the conditions that promote entrepreneurship, upward mobility, and individual responsibility.

We believe, as our founders did, that “the pursuit of happiness” depends upon individual liberty; and individual liberty requires limited government.

Music to my ears, especially the idea that government is limited. I’ve long stated that my money in my hands will do more than my money in the government’s hands. I stand by that. The Federal government should be involved in little more than what is stated here, and I actually think some of this is a little too expansive for my tastes.

Limited government also means effective government. When government takes on too many tasks, it usually doesn’t do any of them very well. It’s no coincidence that trust in government is at an all-time low now that the size of government is at an all-time high.

The President and the Democratic Leadership have shown, by their actions, that they believe government needs to increase its size and its reach, its price tag and its power.

And this largely sums up my main complaints with the Democratic party and also why I tend to lean more Libertarian than anything else.

We believe the days of business as usual must come to an end. We hold to a couple of simple convictions: Endless borrowing is not a strategy; spending cuts have to come first.

And I follow that with a simple question: I believe that Rep. Ryan is speaking the truth, but I have to question who he represents? What he says is accurate, but among all the complaints of overspending by the current administration, this is not a Democrat-only problem. I have little faith in the Republican party to actually reduce spending.

We believe a renewed commitment to limited government will unshackle our economy and create millions of new jobs and opportunities for all people, of every background, to succeed and prosper. Under this approach, the spirit of initiative – not political clout – determines who succeeds.

Same question as before. Again, I agree with all of this, but I have to wonder if the party he is representing does as well. All of this sounds distinctly Libertarian in my opinion, which, of course, I like. 🙂

We need to reclaim our American system of limited government, low taxes, reasonable regulations, and sound money, which has blessed us with unprecedented prosperity. And it has done more to help the poor than any other economic system ever designed. That’s the real secret to job creation – not borrowing and spending more money in Washington.

And again, I agree.

That’s the end of the speech.

A couple notes:

  • He didn’t end with the standard “God bless America” that you see in almost any speech of this magnitude. Odd, and somewhat disappointing.
  • He was much more aggressive in his speech than was President Obama. Of the two, the president’s was much gentler, much more open, and much more appealing. If I were to offer a vote of who won the popular opinion of the people, it would be President Obama hands down.
  • Rep. Ryan has the plans in place, but he didn’t mention a single one in detail. Disappointing. I’m not a child that just needs to be told how it is done. I want a vote here.
  • Regarding debt, I agree with the concepts Rep. Ryan laid out more than President Obama.
  • Rep. Ryan sounded more Libertarian than Republican. No complaints there.

I guess I’m a little surprised that Rep. Ryan didn’t strike a more conciliatory tone. President Obama’s speech could be summed up in the concept of Team Work. Rep. Ryan’s would be more of You Blew It, My Turn. I don’t know that the nation is ready to give that back to Rep. Ryan, and frankly, ever since Tucson, many people are starting to recognize the leadership skills the president does have. Admittedly, President Obama didn’t display much of that pre-Tucson, but he appears a completely different president. One with confidence. One with direction. One who is actually starting to convey that feeling of hope he delivered in the 2008 campaign.

Man… look at me. I might as well be an Obama campaigner for all the praise I’ve heaped on him of late. The point is this: President Obama, you’ve done me wrong these last two years in many ways and made me angry over a lot of things. These last two years have been divisive. They’ve hurt. They’ve not been good for this nation. You’ve lost my trust and respect almost more than any other politician.


Tucson has given you a new lease on this presidency, and you’ve, dare I say it, grown up. Every president gets their moment to shine and really move a nation. President Bush’s was immediately after 9/11. Yours is now, and I’m amazed with the way you’ve done it and handled it.

That being said, you still haven’t technically done anything. You still haven’t actually accomplished anything since Tucson. But we’re all paying attention, and I’d even say that we’re all ready to follow.

Overall a good speech by Rep. Ryan. Same to Obama. I wish Rep. Ryan’s speech had been a little gentler and covered more issues, but this is Rep. Ryan and debt is his calling card. Can’t say I blame him.

Now both of you play nice!

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One Response to Review: Republican Rebuttal to the State of the Union, Paul Ryan

  1. Pingback: The Republican Response to the SOTU, Have They Seen The Light? « Ronin's Journey

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