Rep. Paul Ryan made a forceful case for his Path to Prosperity budget this morning and blasted the argument that President Obama outlined in a speech in downtown Washington, DC. He highlighted the irreconcilable differences between his plan and the President's, while admitting he'd been tricked into thinking that Democrats were ready to have a serious conversation about America's entitlement crisis and fiscal future.
"We realized that this wasn't about building bridges. It was about partisanship. What we got yesterday was the opposite of what he said was necessary to is this problem."
Ryan arrived, as usual, flanked by an armada of charts and graphs. "It wouldn't be me if I didn't bring some charts," he announced as he arrived. He supplemented what he said on future debt with many of the same charts he has used to reinforce his case for aggressive reform.
While the President's speech yesterday was billed as his layout of a competing budget vision, no actual plan came out. The only document that the White House produced is a transcript of the Obama speech. "This was a speech, not a plan," Ryan said. "There is no plan, as far as I can tell."
In fact, many of Ryan's charts had to compare his budget projections to the February Obama budget out of necessity. The lack of an actual Obama plan seemed to frustrate the congressman, as he has had to continue comparing his plan to Obama's "fundamentally unserious" budget proposal.
In advance of the speech, the Obama administration sent officials to brief members of Congress on Capitol Hill. But it wasn't an economist from the Treasury Department, or a budgeter from the Office of Management and Budget that the Administration used to put their best foot forward with opposition GOP budgeting legislators. "He sent his campaign manager to discuss the plan," Ryan said, indicating that he believed this was more of a campaign stunt, not a serious policy proposal.
President Obama's speech laid out the path forward from his empty rhetoric to an agreement, saying, "in early May, the Vice President will begin regular meetings with leaders in both parties with the aim of reaching a final agreement on a plan to reduce the deficit and get it done by the end of June." This sounded strikingly similar to farming out the dirty work to other people.
Ryan said Obama "wants another commission – the Biden Commission. We've had so many commissions… why don't we just do our jobs? We keep punting to other people."
In a round of appearances yesterday, the congressman struck similar chords. "I've never seen a President give a speech like this before. I've never seen a President stoop to this level of distortion, demagoguery and partisanship," he said on the Mark Levin show yesterday. "He invited us to come to the speech... We were led to believe that there was going to be an olive branch. And then we get this total political broadside. I expect these kinds of comments from Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid - that goes without saying - but to get these things from the President, it's just amazing to me."
Ryan's response was hosted by Economics 21, a nonprofit research organization.