The November Crossroads


Some excerpts from a speech given by Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) in Oklahoma City on March 31, 2010:

Last week, on March 21st, Congress enacted a new Intolerable Act. Congress passed the Health Care bill – or I should say, one political party passed it – over a swelling revolt by the American people. The reform is an atrocity. It mandates that every American must buy health insurance, under IRS scrutiny. It sets up an army of federal bureaucrats who ultimately decide for you how you should receive Health Care, what kind, and how much…or whether you don’t qualify at all. Never has our government claimed the power to decide when each of us has lived well enough or long enough to be refused life-saving medical assistance.

This presumptuous reform has put this nation … once dedicated to the life and freedom of every person … on a long decline toward the same mediocrity that the social welfare states of Europe have become.

Americans are preparing to fight another American Revolution, this time, a peaceful one with election ballots…but the “causes” of both are the same:

Should unchecked centralized government be allowed to grow and grow in power … or should its powers be limited and returned to the people?

Should irresponsible leaders in a distant capital be encouraged to run up scandalous debts without limit that crush jobs and stall prosperity … or should the reckless be turned out of office and a new government elected to live within its means?

Should America bid farewell to exceptional freedom and follow the retreat to European social welfare paternalism … or should we make a new start, in the faith that boundless opportunities belong to the workers, the builders, the industrious, and the free?

We are at the beginning of an election campaign like you’ve never seen before!

We are challenged to answer again the momentous questions our Founders raised when they launched mankind’s noblest experiment in human freedom. They made a fundamental choice and changed history for the better. Now it’s our high calling to make that choice: between managed scarcity, or solid growth … between living in dependency on government handouts, or taking responsibility for our lives … between confiscating the earnings of some and spreading them around, or securing everyone’s right to the rewards of their work … between bureaucratic central government, or self-government … between the European social welfare state or the American idea of free market democracy.

[…]

And now I want to return to the Health Care Frankenstein. Most Americans understand that government-run Health Care is not free, not cheap, and not compassionate. I think most Americans believe Congress has no idea of what the public demand will be for subsidized Health Care. They are correct. When Medicare was enacted, Congress guessed it would cost about 10 percent of what it turned out to be after 25 years. Heck, Congress couldn’t even figure the cost of the 3-month long Cash for Clunkers subsidy last year, underestimating it on the order of 1 to 9. Most Americans know the Congressional majority are clueless about what their government-run Health Care system is going to cost.

The drama that brought this creature to life was unedifying … part tragedy and part farce. Ethical categories went out the window. Never in history have the deliberations of Congress been subverted on this scale. The secrecy, the lack of transparency, the half-truths were stunning. The votes called at midnight … the 2 and 3 thousand page bills members of Congress had no time to read before the votes … the sordid backroom deals, the Cornhusker Kickback that shamed Nebraska, the Louisiana Purchase, the “Gator Aid” Medicare privilege for Florida, the additional Medicare dollars for states whose wavering representatives only yesterday were ferociously denouncing earmarks … the federal judgeship dangled for one lawmaker’s brother … the raid on the Medicare piggy bank … the lie that $250 billion for “doc fix” shouldn’t count as a Health Care cost … the double-counted deficit estimate scam that would land any accountant in jail … the proposed Slaughter rule that Congressmen not record a vote on a bill their constituents hate, just “deem” it passed and vote on the amendments…and to complete the farce, the phony Executive Order pretending not to fund abortions when the Health Care bill, as “the supreme law of the land,” does fund abortions. The level of political corruption to buy the votes for this debacle makes all past examples look penny ante by comparison.

Self-government stands or falls on integrity, not only in those who represent you but in the enactment of law. This indecency soiled our freedom and embarrassed the democracy we promote in other nations. And this may not be the last of it. To enact its transformative agenda, this leadership employs the Machiavellian saying that the end justifies the means. America was born in a revolution against that whole idea. Soon it will be the norm.

The Constitution and the consent of the people are all that stand between limited and unlimited government power. Zealous ideologues with the best of intentions brush aside the limits on power in order to get whatever they believe is good for the people … no matter what the people believe. Our system of freedom can survive an assault, but it won’t survive if the people are frightened, or angry, or asleep at the switch. A great Democrat, President Andrew Jackson, once said: “eternal vigilance by the people is the price of liberty.” We can thank our current leaders at least for this: they have awakened the nation to the danger of taking self-government for granted.

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