Transcript: The Great American Debates: 'There's Too Much Government In My Life'

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RYAN: So, look, Big Brother-ism. I find it interesting that my friends on the left say that they are the ones who are the opponents of Big Brotherism, when they're passing all of these laws to take power from individuals (inaudible) to Washington. When we get into social issues, that's a different debate about what we believe are the origins of life and things like that.

I noticed, Barney, you have a big thing with the national defense, with the Defense Department. That's the primary function of the federal government. You may not like what they do.

FRANK: But to build bridges in Afghanistan -- where in the Constitution is that?

RYAN: This time last week, this time last week I was in Helmand Province with our Marines in Afghanistan. They're out there fighting for our liberties and our security, depriving safe havens for terrorists who can come and attack again. You might not like that. You might have a problem with that.

FRANK: They go far beyond it. The point is--

RYAN: It is a primary function of the government. FRANK: You're talking about the construction of society -- I'm in favor of the military stopping bad things from happening and shooting bad guys, (inaudible). But they are far beyond that, into construction of societies and in trying to build. Look, we're still in Iraq--

RYAN: Look, we can debate the --

(CROSSTALK)

FRANK: Let's do that.

(CROSSTALK)

AMANPOUR: We're out of Iraq. And Afghanistan is going to be winding down.

FRANK: No, we're in Iraq, building Iraq.

RYAN: The problem is, this is something that only government can do. National defense is a primary function of the federal government.

FRANK: Just because only government can do it, doesn't mean we have to do it if no one should do it.

(CROSSTALK)

AMANPOUR: Let's go to the audience quickly. Let's go to the audience quickly.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Good morning. This is a great debate. I'm an evangelical Christian minister from Fredricksburg, Virginia. I'm president of an organization called the New Evangelical Partnership for the Common Good. And so I'm interested in finding common ground and I'm not finding a whole lot here. But I think it's great discussion.

My question is this. There's a great paradox, I think Congressman Ryan mentioned that paradox. One is this, two pieces of economic information came out this week, one that we're a nation of haves and have-nots. 48 percent are now poverty or working poor. That's the first point. The second point is that we don't believe that as Americans. The percentage according to Gallup that actually know that this paradox exists, this great income inequality, has fallen. And so my question is, isn't this a great American delusion? And an inconvenient truth that we deny at our peril?

RYAN: Inequality falls when we have less economic growth. That's the paradox. The point we're trying to say as conservatives, is what do we do to set the conditions for economic growth so that we have upward mobility, so that people can rise through society?

We have a dynamic society and the American economy where people move all around in income groups. People who are at the top don't always stay there, and people at the bottom don't stay there. The question is, what are we doing to make it as easy as possible for people to rise through the ranks and make the most of their lives and remove those barriers in front of them?

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