In Congressional testimony yesterday, Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner served up what might just be the political sound-byte of the year. His comment rises to that level because it perfectly encapsulates the Democrat Party's approach to confronting fiscal reality and the real threat of insolvency. For Geithner's comment to have maximum impact, a little context is in order. Below you'll see House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan -- last seen filleting Obama's budget director over the White House's FY 2013 blueprint -- engaging in a spirited back-and-forth with Geithner over the same document. Ryan calls up a chart pulled from the administration-produced documents to highlight the president's indisputable failure on curbing long term debt and spending. Again, this is the White House's own chart:
In the clip you're about to see, Geithner makes two claims. First, that the president's 2013 budget meets the "critical test" of "restoring our deficits to a more sustainable position." As I wrote earlier this week, the closest this budget ever comes to balancing is in 2017, when our national balance sheet will witness an annual deficit of over $600 Billion -- more than double President Bush's average deficit. Geithner's idea of responsible sustainability also entails spending $47 Trillion over ten years and adding $11 Trillion to the national debt, which is already approaching $16 Trillion. Good to know. Second, Geithner says that Obama's new budget and Ryan's 2012 budget aren't too far apart ("it's a pretty small gap") when it comes to debt levels over the next ten years. Although Ryan's budget offers a significantly lower spending trajectory over Geithner's cherry-picked ten year window (as the second graph Ryan pulls up demonstrates), Geithner's point isn't entirely inaccurate. The Ryan budget, as you may recall, leaves the current entitlement spending regime intact for current and soon-to-be seniors. Only those 54 and younger would experience Ryan's necessary reforms, so the gargantuan difference doesn't start developing until the "out years" of future decades. Ryan's second chart shows that the Path to Prosperity substantially lowers unaffordable future expenditures and balances the budget. The president's plan? Well, just look at the above chart again.
The White House admits that their budget offers nothing in the way of leadership to stave off the massive debt crisis that the chart above illustrates in stark relief. The biggest issues of our time -- the looming entitlement and debt crisis -- require urgent action. America must defuse our ticking fiscal time bomb and show creditors that we are serious about curbing and controlling our unsustainable trajectory of obligations, or else we will be consumed by a Greece-like Supernova. Admittedly, such solutions require leadership and entail political risk. Paul Ryan and Republicans have taken a stand, in the form of their 2012 budget, and will do so again in their 2013 version. The Left has demagogued and lied about Ryan's plan endlessly, but do they have an alternative solution of their own? That question brings us to the quote of the year. I'd encourage you to watch the full video, but the money bit comes at the very end:
Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, speaking on behalf of the Obama White House, to Rep. Paul Ryan: "You are right to say we're not coming before you today to say 'we have a definitive solution to that long term problem.' What we do know is, we don't like yours."
Those two sentences speak to a mentality so bereft of intellectual vigor, so stunningly and candidly shallow, so thoroughly irresponsible, so politically myopic, selfish, and cowardly, that it should disqualify this crew from a second term in office. What a disgrace. Remember this moment the next time Democrats accuse the GOP of being the "do nothing," intransigent, "party of no."
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