Earlier this month Wisconsin’s First District Congressman and House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan joined columnist George Will for an hour-long debate with Rep. Barney Frank and former Labor Secretary Robert Reich. The four took part in the inaugural event of the ‘Great American Debate Series’ on ABC’s This Week program, and focused on the topic: “There is Too Much Government in My Life”
Congressman Ryan’s opening remarks:
Is there too much government in our lives? Yes. Ask most people and they will agree. It’s no coincidence that government spending has hit record levels while people’s trust in government has hit record lows. So the longer answer, why is this, is pretty simple.
Too much government inevitably leads to bad government. When government grows too much and extends beyond its limits, it usually does things poorly. Our founders put limits on government because they knew the limits of government.
The left usually likes to advance what I would call a strawman argument or a false choice, that those of us who believe in the constitutional principles of limited government somehow favor sort of a Hobbsian state of nature, or a social Darwinism, where people are left to fend for themselves completely, only to be exploited by the few who are powerful, and that the only alternative to this cruel society is a vision of a society of total security and total outcome, results guaranteed by government.
Fortunately, this is not the case. Those of us who believe in limited government also believe in effective government. A good and popular government is one that respects its limits. Is one that fulfills its goals and its functions well.
But look at where we are today. Look at our economy, look at our debt. Crony capitalism where government is picking winners and losers. Where you have big government and big business exchanging favors with one another while the entrepreneur and the small-business person is left struggling to survive.
The last few years have shown us that a truly effective government is impossible without limits. A government that focuses on equalizing the results of our lives is one that does damage to the American commitment of equal opportunity. If we reclaim our founding timeless principles, we’ll have a government that we have faith in, that we are proud of, and the question surrounding the size and the proper size of government will take care of itself.