Congressman Paul Ryan took to the House floor this afternoon to deliver final remarks before representatives voted on the 2012 budget that he wrote. Ryan began by discussing the 2008 financial crisis, calling to mind the dire days when the Treasury secretary and Fed chairman were warning of imminent financial collapse if Congress failed to act.
“What came out of that was really ugly legislation," Ryan said. "That crisis caught us by surprise. It was unpredictable. We didn’t see it coming."
“Let me ask you this," he continued. "What if your President and your member of Congress saw it coming? What if they knew why it was happening, when it was going to happen, and more importantly, they knew what to do to stop it, and they had time to stop it, but they didn’t – because of politics?"
"What would you think of that person?" Ryan asked, as if he were on the verge of revealing the biggest conspiracy in history.
He didn't. But what he said next was meant to be no less troubling:
“That is where we are right now. This is the most predictable economic crisis we’ve ever had in the history of our country. And yet, we have a President who is unwilling to lead. We have too many politicians who are worried about the next election and not worried about the next generation. Every politician in this town--every politician in this town knows we are headed for a debt crisis. They know that we are in danger."
“We cannot avoid this choice," Ryan continued. "To govern is to choose. We are making a choice, even if we don’t act. And that is the wrong choice. In the words of Abraham Lincoln: ‘We cannot escape history. We of this Congress and this Administration will be remembered in spite of ourselves."
Ryan went on to list four goals of his plan: grow the economy, protect health and retirement security ("we don’t want to ration health care, we want to save Medicare"), reform welfare, and lift "the crushing burden of debt from our children."
“We must not leave this nation in decline," Ryan said, as he came to a close. "We must not be the first generation in this country to leave the next generation worse off. Decline is antithetical to the American Idea. America is a nation conceived in liberty, dedicated to equality, and defined by limitless opportunity. Equal opportunity, upward mobility, prosperity – this is what America is all about. In all the chapters of human history, there has never been anything quite like America. This budget keeps America exceptional, and preserves its promise for the next generation."