Congressman Paul Ryan of Wisconsin has gone where few congressmen have dared to tread—into the thicket of budget/entitlement reform. Ryan has proposed a bold plan for revamping the way Congress handles its financial responsibilities; he calls it “The Path to Prosperity.” In it, he tackles most of the weighty problems of our massive debt and tries to show a way out of it without raising taxes. His path leads to energizing American entrepreneurship and significantly reducing the debt over the next decade. I haven’t read it yet, but I have absorbed sufficient commentary on it to know that even if I don’t agree with every part of his proposal, I can commend him for sparking what could be an extremely profitable debate. His venture into this controversial arena should be applauded.
That’s not what happened yesterday, however. President Obama gave his big speech on the debt crisis and basically trashed Ryan’s blueprint for recovery. He demagogued on the issue [is that a surprise?] by calling the plan an abandonment of the elderly, the poor, and the infirm—especially sick children—leaving them to “fend for themselves.” He then outlined his “plan” for relieving the nation of its staggering debt [five trillion of which has been added on his watch] by—are you ready for this innovative approach?—raising taxes on the “rich.”
What we were then treated to was a classic “us vs. them” stemwinder that blamed everything on the rich and pointed to the solution: taking more from them. It was as close to a Marxist, envy-laden speech as a person can get without officially declaring oneself a Marxist. For those who doubt Obama’s basic worldview, read this speech and receive an education.
Obama’s hubris was even more astounding in that he invited Ryan to be present in the audience to hear him trash the very plan Ryan has initiated. Ryan was stunned. He had expected an olive branch and was excited to be invited. That obviously didn’t happen. Afterwards, Ryan had a few choice words for the president:
What we got was a speech that was excessively partisan, dramatically inaccurate, and hopelessly inadequate to addressing our country’s pressing fiscal challenges. What we heard today was not fiscal leadership from our commander-in-chief. What we heard today was a political broadside from our campaigner-in-chief. … This is very sad and very unfortunate. Rather than building bridges, he’s poisoning wells. … Exploiting people’s emotions of fear, envy, and anxiety is not hope; it’s not change. It’s partisanship. We don’t need partisanship. We don’t need demagoguery. We need solutions.
As I read how Obama treated Ryan, I was reminded of one of his State of the Union addresses in which he berated the Supreme Court—while the members of that Court were sitting right in front of him. Hubris.
But what else have we come to expect from this president? He will let others take on the heavy responsibilities, then try to take credit for himself.
He’s extremely adept at playing the game:
The only problem is—this is not a game.