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Text of Paul Ryan's AEI Speech

12:23 PM, Apr 5, 2011 • By JOHN MCCORMACK
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Budget committee chairman Paul Ryan is delivering a speech at AEI right now (watch it live here).

And here's a transcript of Ryan's remarks, as prepared for delivery: 

Thank you Arthur, and thank you all for being here today.

You know, the budget debates that are raging now in state capitals and here in Washington – especially the one we’re having now in Congress – seem a little disconnected from reality. 

The news stories are full of phrases like “continuing resolutions” or “baseline levels.” The numbers are in the millions or billions. The scorecard is about political posturing and partisan edge.

The debate is stale. The debate is distracting. 

The debate needs to change.

Today, we are here to give Americans the debate they deserve. 

We face a monumental choice about the future of our country. For too long, policymakers in Washington have traveled the path of least resistance… of easy promises and the empty claims of progress… of relentless spending and constant borrowing. 

This path has left us on the brink of national bankruptcy, and continuing down it will push our nation into a debt crisis characterized by uncontrollable interest rates… unsustainable taxes… and an unprecedented economic collapse.

We will leave our children a very different nation than the one we inherited – highly centralized and heavily bureaucratic, less self-governing and less free.

The President, whose budget punted on the drivers of our debt, is not the first public official to have drifted down this perilous path.

And those members of his party who are defending his do-nothing approach while demagoging our solutions – well, they are certainly not the first, either.

In recent years, both political parties have squandered the public’s trust. The American people ended a unified Republican majority in 2006, just as they ended a unified Democratic majority last fall.

They reject empty promises from a government that can’t live within its means. They deserve the truth about the nation’s fiscal and economic challenges. They deserve – and demand – honest leaders willing to stand for solutions.

The new House majority – in which it is my privilege to serve as Chairman of the Budget Committee – has decided to do things differently. We have decided to offer America the choice they deserve.

The stakes in this debate are high. They transcend what fraction a government worker in Madison contributes to his benefits package. And they transcend what number between $33 billion and $61 billion we finally settle on as we try to repair this year’s broken budget process.

At stake is the security and stability of American families. At stake is the potential and prosperity of American workers.

At stake is America.

If the debt poses an existential threat to all we hold dear – if we truly believe that our current path leads to a debt-fueled economic crisis and to the demise of America’s exceptional promise – then let’s dispense with the trivialities. Let’s confront the nation’s most urgent fiscal and economic challenges. And let’s chart the path to a brighter future, restoring America’s promise, and ensuring real security through real reform

The Path to Prosperity is the budget we are putting forward today. It is not just a budget – it is a cause. It represents our choice for America’s future, and our commitment to the American people.

We aim to restore the dynamism that has defined America over the generations, unleashing the genius of America’s workers – investors – and entrepreneurs and strengthening the foundations of economic growth and job creation now and in the future.

We reject a culture of complacency and offer reforms that promote initiative by rewarding effort.

We disavow the idea of unlimited and unrestrained government. Instead, we call for a government limited to its core constitutional functions and faithful to its noble mission to secure life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness for all.

Now more than ever, it is vitally important that we act.

The government’s unfunded liabilities – promises the government makes to current workers about their health and retirement security for which it has no means to pay – are projected to grow by tens of trillions of dollars in the coming years.

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