BY SENATOR JON KYL | APRIL 4, 2012
Serious solutions, bold reform
We have reached a fateful moment in our nation’s history.
Our economy is in a terrible state. Government spending is totally out of control. Federal deficits and debt continue to rise rapidly, threatening fiscal catastrophe. Many of the programs seniors depend on most will careen toward insolvency without reform.
It’s all very worrying. Rarely have Americans been confronted with such a multitude of challenges. But what we face is an historic pivot point, not a brick wall. We have choices to make – choices that could save the day.
Indeed, this is the moment where we must step back and decide what kind of country we want to become.
One choice is to continue along the path we’re currently traveling. That is what President Obama proposed in the budget he released last month. It massively increases spending and debt. It saves any meaningful fiscal reform for another day, effectively imposing a slow death sentence on programs like Social Security and Medicare. And it massively increases taxes on the very sectors of our economy that are most needed for job creation and broad-based recovery.
In short, the president’s budget is not a serious plan; and it was never meant to be – the president knows it will never pass Congress. But that’s precisely the way he designed it, allowing him to run against a “do-nothing” legislature.
We can choose to continue following the president down the road to decline. But we don’t have to.
There is another path – of bold, innovative reform that sets our country on a new trajectory. We have just such an option in the new budget released last week by Rep. Paul Ryan, chairman of the House Budget Committee. It cuts government spending and enacts long-term reform that will keep the federal budget sustainable in coming decades. It seeks to simplify the tax code, which is littered with provisions that pick winners and losers, in order to create a more equal playing field with lower rates for businesses, families, and individuals. It also calls for reforms that will prevent the looming bankruptcy of Social Security, and it will ensure the availability of Medicare for generations to come.
While it is not perfect, the Ryan budget is nonetheless a serious plan that makes prudent reform today to ensure greater prosperity tomorrow. And it does not shy away from making bold decisions – including necessary reforms that will be nonetheless demagogued by the president and his allies.
Indeed, you may remember that Rep. Ryan introduced a similar plan last year, and I was proud to support it. You may also remember the completely over-the-top rhetoric in opposition that followed. As Ryan put it recently: “We assumed there would be some who would distort for political gain our efforts to preserve programs like Medicare. Having been featured in an attack ad literally throwing an elderly woman off a cliff, I can confirm that those assumptions were on the mark.”
“But one year later,” he continued, “we can say with some confidence that the attacks have failed. Courageous Democrats have joined our efforts. And bipartisan opposition to the path of broken promises is growing.”
Momentum for honest solutions from Washington is growing. The American people are demanding them. Members of both parties are increasingly coming around to them. And serious individuals are now proposing them.
The contrast between the president’s unserious budget and Rep. Ryan’s very serious one could not be more stark. We can no longer afford to play political games with our nation’s future; the time for decisive, sincere, and serious reform is now.
The House will soon vote on this proposal, with the Senate likely to follow shortly thereafter. In the meantime, I would encourage you to log onto the website http://budget.house.gov to read more about the plan yourself. Then, you too can decide which way our country should turn – toward political games and continued decline, or toward serious solutions and a more prosperous future.
Sen. Jon Kyl is the Senate Republican Whip and serves on the Senate Finance and Judiciary committees. Visit http://www.kyl.senate.gov.