It wasn't flashy. It didn't need to be. It wasn't met with thunderous ovations. It didn't lend itself to that anyway. It was more reality than rhetoric. And that's precisely what made Republican Paul Ryan's response to the State of the Union speech one of the best I have ever seen.
Ryan is an emerging star in the Republican Party, and with good reason. He is young, he is bright, and has some very grounded conservative principles. There is no doubt that given his position as the House Budget Committee Chairman, he is in a position to square off against President Obama for the next two years. His response Tuesday demonstrated he has the chops to do it.
What made his speech so great? Rather than dance around the harsh realities of where we are as a country right now (see Obama's speech), Ryan laid out the dangerous precipice upon which we stand. But then offered the branch of hope - being cautious to iterate that it won't be a pleasure cruise.but it is better than the deadly alternative.
Tony Lee writes:
Ryan criticized the last Congress, which was run by Democrats, for an "unprecedented failure" in "choosing not to pass, or even propose a budget."
Due to this failure, "the spending spree continued unchecked," said Ryan. "Our forthcoming budget is our obligation to you - to show you how we intend to do things differently, how we will cut spending to get the debt down, help create jobs and prosperity, and reform government programs."
Earlier in the day the House passed a measure to set this year's budget to 2008 spending levels or lower.
Ryan cited the fact that the unemployment rate remains above 9% despite Obama's stimulus programs and said that due to the reckless spending of Obama and the Democrats, "our nation is approaching a tipping point. We are at a moment, where if government's growth is left unchecked and unchallenged, America's best century will be considered our past century."
Ryan warned against a future "in which we will transform our social safety net into a hammock, which lulls able-bodied people into lives of complacency and dependency. Depending on bureaucracy to foster innovation, competitiveness, and wise consumer choices has never worked - and it won't work now."
Ryan also made the necessary distinction between the conservative perspective and Obama's reckless pursuit of the status quo:
In a direct contrast from Obama, who essentially urged Congress to double down on the same course of more deficit spending, Ryan said that if Americans did not "chart a new course," the mounting debt "will soon eclipse our entire economy."
"No economy can sustain such high levels of debt and taxation. The next generation will inherit a stagnant economy and a diminished country," said Ryan. "Frankly, it's one of my greatest concerns as a parent, and I know many of you feel the same way."
Ryan warned against America going down the path of countries such as "Greece, Ireland, the United Kingdom and other nations in Europe" that "didn't act soon enough, and now their their governments have been forced to impose painful austerity measures: large benefit cuts to seniors and huge tax increases on everybody."
In this looming crisis, though, Ryan said that while "some people will back away from this challenge," he saw "this challenge as an opportunity to rebuild."
Stating that "it's no coincidence that trust in government is at an all-time low now that the size of government is at an all-time high," Ryan said that "we believe a renewed commitment to limited government will unshackle our economy and create millions of new jobs and opportunities for all people, of every background, to succeed and prosper."
Thanks to Ryan, there was at least one meaningful speech given on Tuesday that needed to be heard and embraced by Americans. Keep your eyes on Paul Ryan.