WASHINGTON — The nation faces a crushing burden of debt and is on course for an economic disaster without dramatic action to wrestle the budget deficit under control, House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan said Tuesday in the Republican response to President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address.
“Our nation is approaching a tipping point. We are at a moment, where if government’s growth is left unchecked and unchallenged, America’s best century will be considered our past century,” Ryan said in televised remarks.
“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,” Ryan added.
Ryan is the point man in the new House GOP majority’s drive to rein in spending and bring the budget closer to balance.
Speaking from a budget panel hearing room that will be ground zero in the upcoming battle over cutting spending, Ryan echoed familiar GOP arguments.
“We need to reclaim our American system of limited government, low taxes, reasonable regulations and sound money, which has blessed us with unprecedented prosperity,” Ryan said. “And it has done more to help the poor than any other economic system ever designed.”
Ryan’s sentiments were repeated by numerous Republicans across the Capitol, who said Obama’s proposal for a five-year freeze on the operating budgets passed by Congress each year for domestic Cabinet agencies doesn’t go far enough.
They also are deeply skeptical of his plan for investments in education, infrastructure, and research and development.
“At a time when the Treasury secretary is begging Congress to raise the debt limit, a ‘freeze’ is simply inadequate,” said House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio.
Ryan acknowledged that there’s plenty of blame to go around.
“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,” Ryan said.
In an unusual move, tea party favorite Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., followed Ryan’s response with high-profile speech of her own. It originally was aimed just at tea party activists — streamed live at www.TeaPartyExpress.org and www.TeaPartyHD.com — but also was carried live by CNN.
“Last November many of you went to the polls and voted out big-spending politicians and you put in their place men and women who have come to Washington with a commitment to follow the Constitution and cut the size of government,” Bachmann said in excerpts released Tuesday evening. “We are in the early days of a history-making turn here in the House of Representatives.”