Transcript: Rep. Paul Ryan’s opening remarks on the CBO’s 2014 budget & economic outlook

Partial transcript of opening remarks by Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wisconsin) on the Congressional Budget Office’s (CBO) 2014 federal budget and economic outlook. The House Budget Committee hearing was held on Feb. 5, 2014:

…You have put together a very informative report. It does a great job of laying out the challenges we face. My main takeaway is this: We still have a lot of work to do.

This year, we’re going to run a deficit of $514 billion. Now, that’s less than last year’s but it’s nothing to brag about. In fact, the deficit will start growing in just two years.

By 2022, we will be running trillion dollar deficits again even though we will be taking in a historically large share of revenue. So, even though taxes are at a historically high place, we still got trillion dollar deficits in the future. That’s because spending will be growing twice as fast as revenue.

So over the next 10 years, we will add $10 trillion more to our national debt for a grand total of $27 trillion. It is hardly time to start congratulating each other.

Now, I was glad to see we passed the bipartisan budget deal last year. I think it was a step in the right direction, but only a step. We need to do more. We need to do much more.

And it’s deja vu all over again because we know what the problem is – autopilot spending and interest payments are driving our debt.

Interest alone will quadruple over the next 10 years.

And Obamacare is clearly part of the problem. It adds trillions of dollars in government spending and it has made things worse for our economy and for working families.

By 2017, CBO projects that people will be working fewer hours precisely because of the incentives created in this law. The effect will be severe as if 2.5 million have stopped working full-time by 2024. Between 2017 and 2024, overall labor compensation will also decline.

And these changes? They disproportionately affect low-wage workers. Translation? Washington is making the poverty trap much worse.

Your report points out some weak spots in our economy – low investment, high unemployment, people leaving the workforce.

If we got our act together, we could start paying down our debts and give our economy the certainty that it needs.

Tax reform, regulatory reform, and energy development – I think all of these could help create jobs and increase take-home pay.

If you could bring up from the CBO report slide 2.8, this is a point I’d like to highlight. This report says that not only does the debt get worse, that we have slower economic growth compared to the last forecast, but what is particularly troubling is CBO’s projection of the labor force participation.

CBO says that about half of this decline is attributable to the aging of the population. This is what we knew. You know, baby boomers are coming. They’re retiring, and fewer people are following them into the workforce. A problem we have for a long time but we have yet to solve.

But most notably in this report is that CBO also says that government policies, especially the President’s health care law, are discouraging work. Washington is making this problem worse.

This does not have to be our fate. We need to reverse this decline.

So, I’d consider this report a call to action. We know what the problem is. We know how to fix this problem. And I believe we can work together to get it done.

The debt won’t take care of itself. It is up to us – the men and women in the representative branch of government who are elected to serve and represent them.

We need to take action…


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