Paul Ryan: America's "Expanding Culture of Dependency"


Congressman Paul Ryan of Wisconsin is known these days as the “GOP Idea Man,” and he joined On Point (click here to listen) to lay out his core proposals.

Ryan has touted a “roadmap” for reforming entitlements — Social Security and Medicare — and he’s taking on what he says are burdensome taxes and health care mandates.

“The Federal Government’s current fiscal path is unsustainable,” Ryan has written, “it leads to unprecedented levels of spending and debt that will overwhelm the budget, smother the economy, weaken America’s competitiveness in the 21st century global economy, and threaten the survival of the government’s major benefit programs.

Below is an excerpt from his “Roadmap for America’s Future” in which he explains where America has gone wrong. What do you make of his history, and his vision? What’s your question for him?

Excerpt from Paul Ryan’s “Roadmap” Plan:


In 1930, just after the great stock market crash, Federal Government spending totaled just 3.4 percent of gross domestic product [GDP]. As late as 1935, the cumulative spending of State and local governments still exceeded total outlays from Washington. The New Deal created programs designed to aid an economically devastated country, and to try to put people back to work. Some were significant achievements. Some longer-term administrative measures have led to a growth of bureaucracies that over time weakened Americans’ control of the Federal Government. They also planted the seeds for a gradual change in thinking about the government’s limited powers and mission in its relationship with the people. The effect has been to increase, step by step, the extent to which Americans depend on their government – not only for assistance during temporary hardships, but for their livelihoods, housing, savings, and means of retirement.

These so-called “progressive” reforms had well-intentioned aims as they unfolded in the Great Society programs of the 1960s. But addressing the challenges of modern society with a steady expansion of government brought its own unintended burdens – and they are looming larger every day. One is that public programs have extended their reach into America’s economy and Americans’ lives. Further, the government’s largest entitlement programs, now deeply entrenched, are driving an unsustainably rapid rate of spending growth – one that threatens to overwhelm the Federal budget and smother the economy.

Equally troubling has been the effect on national character. Until recently, Americans  were known and admired everywhere for their hopeful determination to assume responsibility for the quality of their own lives; to rely on their own work and initiative; and to improve opportunities for their children to prosper in the future. But over time, Americans have been lured into viewing government – more than themselves, their families, their communities, their faith – as their main source of support; they have been drawn toward depending on the public sector for growing shares of their material and personal well-being. The trend drains individual initiative and personal responsibility. It creates an aversion to risk, sapping the entrepreneurial spirit necessary for growth, innovation, and prosperity. In turn, it subtly and gradually suffocates the creative potential for prosperity.

Now America is approaching a “tipping point” beyond which the Nation will be unable to change course – and this will lead to disastrous fiscal consequences, and an erosion of economic prosperity and the American character itself. The current administration and Congress are propelling the Nation to the brink of this precipice.

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