By Congressman Paul Ryan
The challenges we face as a community and a nation are immense. The federal government has a role to play in our recovery and revitalization, and it must help be part of the solution—not add to the problem. Unfortunately, President Obama’s proposed budget takes us in the exact wrong direction.
It’s truly a breathtaking budget: increasing federal spending as a share of our economy to record levels; doubling our debt within a decade; and exacerbating our already unsustainable entitlement crisis.
What’s worse: the president is making the fatal flaw of increasing taxes—by $1.4 trillion—in the midst of a deepening recession. This is a tax hike on the small businesses and investors we rely on to create about 80 percent of all American jobs—the very jobs the government has already spent hundreds of billions in taxpayer dollars trying to restore.
This budget’s so-called “cap-and-trade” proposal would raise taxes by at least another $646 billion on families’ natural gas, electricity, home heating and gasoline bills. This would not only hit families in cold-weather states such as Wisconsin disproportionately hard but would further erode job growth among U.S. manufacturers. This unilateral energy tax would put Wisconsin manufacturers at a further competitive disadvantage with countries such as China that have no intention of inflicting a similar tax on their businesses. Already devastated by mass layoffs, Rock County simply can’t afford this costly “cap-and-tax” scheme.
Even with all these tax increases, the president’s spending continues to outpace revenue for the entire budget period. The 2009 budget deficit swells to $1.8 trillion—more than triple the previous record. The budget would also double the national debt in the next 8 years. Like the tax increases, this budget’s explosion of deficits and debt will consume the resources required for any hope of solid, sustained future economic growth.
President Obama challenged Republicans to offer not only criticism when we disagree but constructive alternatives. He’s right—I will continue to do just that.
As ranking member of the House Budget Committee, I put forth complete alternative budgets that reduced deficits by controlling spending—not raising taxes. Last year, I introduced legislation—“A Roadmap for America’s Future”—that reforms entitlement programs, ensures universal access to affordable health coverage, and simplifies and modernizes our tax code.
To be clear, where we can find common ground, I welcome the opportunity to work with the president. I commend him for including some good proposals in this budget, proposals that I have long advocated, including agricultural subsidy reform and honest accounting for the Alternative Minimum Tax. But if reaching compromise means pursuing policies I believe will do more harm than good, I simply can’t go along.
We can and we must do better than this budget proposal. I hope to work with my colleagues—on both sides of the aisle—to craft fiscal policies that promote solid, sustainable economic growth, limit federal spending to realistic levels and set a path that ensures our nation can prosper.
Congressman Paul Ryan serves Wisconsin’s 1st Congressional District. To contact him by phone in Washington, D.C., call (202) 225-3031. Or visit Paul Ryan at www.house.gov/ryan