Get ready for another round of whining from Paul Ryan when the President attacks his radical budget at a speech for newspaper executives today (starting at 12:30pm ET).
In an election-year pitch to middle-class voters, President Barack Obama is denouncing a House Republican budget plan as a “Trojan horse,” warning that it represents “an attempt to impose a radical vision on our country” that would hurt the pocketbooks of working families.
Obama, in a speech to newspaper executives, is sharply criticizing a $3.5 trillion budget proposal pushed by Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., which passed on a near-party-line vote last week and has been embraced by GOP presidential hopefuls. The plan has faced fierce resistance from Democrats, who say it would gut Medicare, slash taxes for the wealthy and lead to deep cuts to crucial programs such as aid to college students and highway and rail projects.
“It’s a Trojan horse. Disguised as deficit reduction plan, it’s really an attempt to impose a radical vision on our country,” Obama said in excerpts of his speech released Tuesday. “It’s nothing but thinly veiled social Darwinism.”
I have some more excerpts of the speech.
Whoever he may be, the next president will inherit an economy that is recovering, but not yet recovered, from the worst economic calamity since the Great Depression. Too many Americans will still be looking for a job that pays enough to cover their bills or their mortgage. Too many of our citizens will still lack the sort of financial security that started slipping away years before the recession hit. And a debt that has grown over the last decade, primarily as a result of two wars, two massive tax cuts and an unprecedented financial crisis, will have to be paid down.
In this country, broad-based prosperity has never trickled down from the success of a wealthy few. It has always come from the success of a strong and growing middle class. That’s how a generation who went to college on the GI Bill, including my grandfather, helped build the most prosperous economy the world has ever known. That’s why a CEO like Henry Ford made it his mission to pay his workers enough so they could buy the cars that they made. That’s why studies have shown that countries with less inequality tend to have stronger and steadier economic growth over the long run.
The Administration sees this speech on a continuum with the populist tone of last year’s speech in Osawatomie, Kansas. It attempts to keep faith with the middle class, offering a vision of the economy in their interests rather than solely in the interests of the wealthy. And it will draw a contrast between this vision and the cruel vision of Paul Ryan’s America, a “you’re on your own” society that would attempt to sever the responsibility between government and its citizens.
As for how the President contrasts that vision, he supports the balanced approach, even going so far during last year’s budget talks as to favor cuts in Medicare and Medicaid in exchange on a dollar-for-dollar basis with revenue increases, as well as a new calculation for cost-of-living increases that would reduce Social Security benefits over time. The only reason this didn’t go through is because of resistance on the Republican side to any tax increases of any kind.
Since that time, Obama has emphasized other parts of his program, including the principle of the Buffett rule, an alternative minimum effective tax rate for millionaires. He endorses the phasing out of the Bush tax cuts over $250,000. He supported a budget that slows the growth of defense. And I’m happy to see Obama box himself in today by trashing the Ryan budget, which does deserve it.
But are these really the issues on which he should be judged? When the rubber met the road last year, Obama was willing to damage the social safety net and reduce benefits. It was only because Republicans couldn’t deliver their votes that this didn’t happen. Furthermore, under the spending cap that eventually came out of the debt limit deal, federal investment will be at its lowest percentage of GDP since the 1950s. This hardly keeps with the promises of “an economy built to last.”
So while the two competing visions, when lined up together, obviously favor the President, that doesn’t make it the preferable vision in general terms.