Guy Benson
Last week, Republican Congressman Paul Ryan owned the political limelight as he introduced his long-awaited 2012 budget, dubbed the "Path to Prosperity."   The plan was hailed by observers of varying political worldviews as a bold and serious attempt to constrain federal debt by reforming America's bloated and unsustainable entitlement programs.  Ryan's ten-year blueprint was predictably met with demagogic howls from the Left, which immediately denounced it as an inhumane, uncaring document. 

Alright, chumps -- what's your plan? 

Apparently recognizing that its initial foray into the 2012 budget process produced a ludicrously unacceptable plan, the White House has decided to take another bite at the apple.  The president will speak at George Washington University this afternoon at 1:30pm ET to address the topic of entitlement reform -- a subject he cynically avoided in his ruinous 2012 budget.  The White House has held the substance of his remarks close to the vest, but the Associated Press reports he'll call for some cuts to Medicare, and -- you guessed it -- higher taxes:


Other reports indicate that the president may revisit the recommendations of his deficit commission, which he conspicuously declined to do the first time around.  It remains unclear, however, whether he'll explicitly endorse any elements of Simpson-Bowles. 

Meanwhile, the House's Progressive Caucus has blazed its own trail to fiscal, ahem, sanity.  It's so profoundly unserious, it almost reads like satire.  In short, it imposes crippling tax hikes on almost all families and businesses, and implements deep cuts, primarily in one area: Military spending.  Reuters' Jim Pethokoukis describes House Democrats' worst-of-all-worlds proposition:


It proposes raising taxes by $4 trillion over ten years and cutting spending (mostly defense) by $900 billion. (Ryan would cut spending by $6 trillion.) It would take tax revenue as a share of GDP to 22.3 percent vs. a previous all-time high of 20.9 percent in World War Two. Even worse, the plan only goes out a decade since its tax hikes still wouldn’t balance the budget long-term because it ignores healthcare reform.



In all fairness, it doesn't entirely ignore healthcare.  Au contraire; it injects the lost liberal dream of a public option into Obamacare.  And in a final salute to failed Obama/Reid/Pelosi policy, it calls for a boatload of additional "stimulus funding."  Phil Klein reports:


The plan would also build on Obama's most notable initiatives. It includes an additional $1.45 trillion in economic stimulus spending. On health care, the plan would add a government-run plan, or "public option," to Obamacare and have the government negotiate drug prices.


Yet while other parts of government would grow, the defense budget would be gutted. The proposal would "reduce baseline defense spending by reducing strategic capabilities, conventional forces, procurement, and R&D programs."



Fortunately, this backwards document will never see the light of day in the GOP-held House.  Still, it serves as a baseline for what to expect from the Left as this broader debate moves forward.  It also offers an immaculately polished window into liberals' thinking, impulses, and priorities:  More taxes, more spending, smaller military.  What an appealing agenda! 

But for now, all eyes are on the president.

Guy Benson

Guy Benson is Townhall.com's Political Editor. Follow him on Twitter @guypbenson. He is co-authors with Mary Katharine Ham for their new book End of Discussion: How the Left's Outrage Industry Shuts Down Debate, Manipulates Voters, and Makes America Less Free (and Fun).

Author Photo credit: Jensen Sutta Photography