President Obama’s Curious Paul Ryan Speech
Alison Acosta Fraser /
Why would the President, elected to the highest office in the land, stoop to attack a plan authored by the Chairman of the House Budget Committee, Paul Ryan (R–WI)? It’s a budget whose individual policies stand virtually no chance of ever becoming law, if for no other reason than the President’s own veto pen.
Obama has chosen to directly criticize the plan. In doing so, he curiously elevates Ryan to the level of contender, worthy of direct presidential attention in a contentious election year. Why not just let this plan die quietly in the Senate, as Harry Reid (D–NV) has already promised? Perhaps Obama is stinging from the sound rejection of his own budget proposal. Not a single Democrat voted in for it in the House last week. Last year’s budget fared no better in the Senate. It is Obama who truly has the radical plan: Do nothing.
Perhaps the President is worried about his own policies. He should be; they have failed to get the economy’s engines revving at full speed, and unemployment is still unacceptably high. On his watch, the debt has increased dramatically. Despite his lofty rhetoric about “an obligation to future generations to address our long-term, structural deficits, which threaten to hobble our economy and leave our children and grandchildren with a mountain of debt,” his plan would do nothing. This year Obama proposed, again, a budget which fails to tackle the twin crises of spending and debt and hikes taxes to unprecedented levels with divisive class warfare arguments. So, as a counter to his failure to lead us away from the fiscal abyss, Obama has chosen to attack Ryan and the House budget with scary rhetoric about Trojan horses, social Darwinism, and a radical vision for the country. (And whining about President George W. Bush’s policies—the great bulk of which Obama has maintained—doesn’t cut it any more.) Americans are a smart lot and are not fooled easily.
This is really about two visions for the future of the country. Under one, we follow in the footsteps of Greece and Italy, replete with debt crises and an economic and cultural meltdown and in the end, vastly higher taxes. Under another, we return to our smaller government roots with lower spending and lower taxation—for all Americans—and unshackle our system of free enterprise so Americans from all walks of life can seize opportunity.
Under Obama’s vision, we close our eyes and pretend that big government has all the answers to every risk and problem in society, real or perceived. Under Obama’s vision, fairness and prosperity come from spreading the wealth around and the government picking winners and losers. Crony capitalism, waste, and corruption capture the headlines. We do nothing about our entitlement crisis and instead pretend it doesn’t exist, while driving health care further into the clutches of unelected government bureaucrats and away from patient-centered care. Under Obama’s vision, we get crushing levels of debt or crippling levels of taxation, and America’s younger generations pay the price in terms of lost freedom, opportunity, and prosperity. Obama truly has the radical plan.
Many of Ryan’s proposals are similar to proposals in Heritage’s Saving the American Dream plan. Under Ryan’s vision, health care is moved away from bureaucrats and into the hands of patients and their doctors. It starts with the repeal of Obamacare, which adds trillions in new government spending and puts the government in the middle of Americans’ health care decisions. The President doesn’t fix entitlements in his budget or his health law; instead, Obamacare ends Medicare as we know it by raiding it to pay for other new programs and handing control over to an unelected board of officials to further ratchet down its cost through perpetuation of the flawed price control model.
The Ryan budget takes a better route to preserve both the Medicare program and patient choice. It builds a premium support system for America’s seniors to choose a health plan that suits them best, expanding upon the success of choice and competition that seniors already experience today under the Medicare prescription drug program. Ryan’s vision would drive down costs without meddling from Washington and would preserve Medicare for today’s and tomorrow’s seniors. His budget also addresses the need for change in Medicaid, reforming the program’s financing to remove incentives for its runaway costs and encouraging states to improve the quality of the program for beneficiaries.
Rather than punitive tax hikes, Ryan would tackle the entire mess of today’s tax code with the goals of increasing growth, wages, and of course jobs. It’s not that affluent American’s aren’t part of the solution in the Ryan plan. But rather than raising their taxes, Ryan simply reduces the taxpayer-funded contributions to their benefits. Taxes stay low, and so does spending. Under Ryan’s plan, defending the nation is a priority, not a casualty. Under Ryan’s plan—passed by the House of Representatives—today’s soaring spending levels decline, the level of debt stabilizes and then declines, while taxes are kept at roughly their historical level.
Under the President’s vision, we walk squarely and knowingly into a Grecian-style debt and democratic crisis. Under Ryan’s vision, we correct course and unshackle opportunity for all Americans. No, Obama has the truly radical plan. Curious he would choose to highlight it to the American people.