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Fiscal crisis threatens American legacy of prosperity

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Rep. Paul Ryan
May 26, 2008

We risk severing the unique American legacy of leaving our next generation better off. By failing to tackle the greatest threat to our nation’s long-term economic prosperity—the explosion of entitlement spending—we are failing the next generation of Americans. The looming fiscal and economic crisis we face is no longer in question. What remains in doubt is whether America’s leaders will lead and set a different course for the next generation.


Our federal government continues to make promises it knows it can’t keep. Our social insurance programs of the past century—those that promise health and retirement security—are headed toward bankruptcy. Not only will these programs grow themselves into extinction, they will immensely burden our economy and our budget—piling massive amounts of debt on future generations, crippling our ability to compete in the international marketplace and dramatically reducing Americans' standards of living.


In fact, by the time my three kids are my age (38), they will have to pay double the taxes we pay today, just to keep the government afloat. Continuing down this path will eventually strangle our economy.


To meet this challenge and secure our fiscal future, I have introduced a comprehensive legislative plan called “A Roadmap for America’s Future.” My plan will accomplish the following:


1. It fulfills the mission of health and retirement security for all Americans by rescuing and strengthening Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security. These vital programs will be made permanently solvent under my plan.


2. It lifts the burden of debt from the shoulders of future generations by returning federal spending growth to sustainable levels.


3. It promotes solid economic growth and job creation here in America and puts the United States in a position to lead—not merely survive—in the international marketplace.


The Roadmap I’m offering is a real plan with real proposals, real numbers to back them and real legislation to implement it. The full plan can be accessed at: www.americanroadmap.org.


I recognize that this is an ambitious proposal. Not everyone will agree with every aspect of it, and that’s fine. But it is my sincere hope that it will spur Congress to move beyond simply rehashing the problem—to the politically difficult, but critical task of debating and implementing actual solutions for the American people.


These problems are too big to grow our way out of, tax our way out of, or borrow our way out of. The problems are not Democratic problems or Republican problems, and they cannot be solved exclusively using the political ideology of either party. We need to build bipartisan support for actual solutions across America.


The unique American legacy is that each generation tackles its defining challenge and leaves the next generation better off. Previous generations have risen to the occasion and left America stronger, safer and more prosperous for the next generation. This looming fiscal crisis is our defining challenge, and we must take decisive action if we are to uphold the American legacy.


Paul Ryan of Janesville represents Wisconsin’s 1st Congressional District. Write to him at the Janesville Constituent Services Center, 20 S. Main St., Suite 10, Janesville, WI 53545; his phone number in Washington, D.C., is (202) 225-3031.

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