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March 21. 2012 10:20PM

Ryan's plan: A contrast in leadership

U.S. House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, who should have run for President, on Tuesday verified that he — not Rush Limbaugh or John Boehner or Mitt Romney — is the de facto leader of the Republican Party. For the second time in two years, Ryan has released a federal budget proposal that defines the Republican alternative to President Obama's grotesquely irresponsible and cynical debt-based expansion of the welfare state.

In 2008, Obama campaigned on a message of fiscal responsibility. He appealed to Americans fed up with President Bush's deficit spending by promising to balance the budget, halve the federal deficit in four years, and end what he called the “unpatriotic” financing of current spending with money borrowed from China.

Once elected, he went to work vastly expanding the federal government with auto bailouts, a $787 billion stimulus bill and a health care bill that will cause $1.76 trillion of new federal spending through 2022. Before his first term is finished, Obama will have increased the federal debt by more than $5 trillion — more than George W. Bush's $4.9 trillion increase over eight years. Though he acknowledges that entitlements need to be reformed, he offers no reform. His proposed budget would increase annual federal spending by $2 trillion over the next decade (this year's budget is $3.6 trillion; his 2022 budget is $5.6 trillion).

Ryan provides an alternative. The budget he proposed on Tuesday would spend $5.3 trillion less than Obama would over the next decade. It would institute reforms of Medicare and Medicaid that — unlike anything offered by the Democrats — would make both programs solvent in the long run. Ryan continues short-term deficit spending rather than initiate a wrenching, sudden change. By 2022, his deficit spending would amount to $3.1 trillion. President Obama's would be more than double that — $6.4 trillion. Obama's budget would increase debt held by the public from 68 percent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) this year to 96 percent by 2023. Ryan's budget would bring it down to 61 percent.

Democrats attack Ryan for spending less money on programs that a lot of people enjoy. Republicans need to ask them: So, where's your plan for balancing the budget and reinvigorating the economy? They don't have one, which is why they will spend the next seven months savaging Ryan's.


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