January 29, 2010

Ryan confronts Obama on the budget...

Paul Ryan scored some facetime with President Obama today, asking him an essentially loaded question but nevertheless opening a dialogue. Both Ryan and Obama come off well in the exchange, especially so if our Congressman likes being referred to as "wonky," which showed up in two of the early reports of the session.

It all took place at the GOP House Issues Conference in Baltimore. Before asking his question, Ryan, R-WI, 1st District, introduced the President to his daughter, Liza; sons, Charlie and Sam; and wife, Janna. Then, according to a transcript, Ryan tossed this at Obama:
"The spending bills that you have signed into law, the domestic and discretionary spending has been increased by 84 percent. You now want to freeze spending at this elevated level beginning next year. This means that total spending in your budget would grow at 300ths of 1 percent less than otherwise. I would simply submit that we could do more and start now."
Obama easily deflects blame for the 84% increase:
"The fact of the matter is that most of the increases in this year's budget, this past year's budget, were not as a consequence of policies that we initiated, but instead were built in as a consequence of the automatic stabilizers that kick in because of this enormous recession.

"So the increase in the budget for this past year was actually predicted before I was even sworn into office and had initiated any policies. Whoever was in there, Paul -- and I don't think you'll dispute that -- whoever was in there would have seen those same increases because of, on the one hand, huge drops in revenue, but at the same time people were hurting and needed help. And a lot of these things happen automatically."
He also rejects Ryan's suggestion that the freeze take effect immediately, saying that experts agree:
"...if you either increased taxes or significantly lowered spending when the economy remains somewhat fragile, that that would have a de-stimulative effect and potentially you'd see a lot of folks losing business, more folks potentially losing jobs. That would be a mistake when the economy has not fully taken off. "
But the second part of Ryan's question got more traction. Ryan said:
"You've also said that you want to take a scalpel to the budget and go through it line by line. We want to give you that scalpel. I have a proposal with my home state senator, Russ Feingold, a bipartisan proposal, to create a constitutional version of the line-item veto."
And Obama responded:
"I think there's not a president out there that wouldn't love to have it. And, you know, I think that this is an area where we can have a serious conversation. I know it is a bipartisan proposal by you and Russ Feingold.

"I don't like being held up with big bills that have stuff in them that are wasteful but I've got to sign because it's a defense authorization bill and I've got to make sure that our troops are getting the funding that they need."
Obama mentioned earmarks, and gave Ryan props for taking the issue "pretty seriously."
RYAN: OK. I'd like to walk you through it, because we have a version we think is constitutional . . .

OBAMA: Let me take a look at it.

RYAN: I would simply say that automatic stabilizer spending is mandatory spending. The discretionary spending, the bills that Congresses signs -- that you sign into law, that has increased 84 percent. So . . .

OBAMA: We'll have a -- we'll have a longer debate on the budget numbers there, all right?

The Washington Post's transcript of their exchange is HERE. And from the White House, here's a transcript of the entire session.

And HERE and HERE are two early reports saying that Ryan came out very well in the exchange.

There even was a little humor. As ABC News reported:
At another point, pushing for “a tone of civility instead of slash-and-burn,” the president said the media doesn’t report on the positive. “I don’t get a lot of credit if I say, ‘You know, I think Paul Ryan's a pretty sincere guy and has a beautiful family.’ Nobody's going to run that in the newspapers, right?”

The crowd laughed.

“And by the way, in case he's going to get a Republican challenge, I didn't mean it,” the president joked. Turning to Ryan, he said, “I don't want to -- don't want to hurt you, man.”
Following their exchange, Ryan issued a statement:
“President Obama proved to be an honest broker this afternoon in acknowledging our unsustainable fiscal path. The President highlighted a serious proposal to tackle our entitlement crisis. Reflecting the deteriorating economic and fiscal condition since first released in 2008, I put forward ‘A Roadmap for America’s Future 2.0’ earlier this week to fulfill the mission of health and retirement security, lift the crushing burden of debt, and boost jobs and competitiveness in the 21st century global economy.

"I applaud the President for rejecting his Democratic colleagues’ false ‘Party of No’ attacks. Tackling our economic and fiscal challenges require real solutions and serious dialogue. I look forward to working with the President on rising above the partisan attacks – and tackling our generation’s greatest challenges.”
AND, here's VIDEO of Obama discussing Ryan's plan at the session.


  1. First off it should be noted that Obama was gracious enough to give Ryan more face time than Ryan gives his own constituents on his op-eds at the Racine JT.

    What President wouldn't want to have the line-item veto? Feingold is wrong to partner with Ryan on this expansion of executive power. It shifts core congressional fiscal responsibility onto the president while affording the president an unprecedented political weapon. It is no wonder why they have to focus on the UNconstitutionality of the Feingold-Ryan veto act.

    If Ryan's corporate-written "Patient's Choice" has devolved into a voucher system for 55 and older, it is merely another profit boosting subsidy for InsuroCorp masquerading as a flat-lining government entitlement. All the while alleviating the private HC industry of their highest risk customers.

  2. Obama was masterful, Ryan was credible, Pence was an embarrassment to his party and his country.

  3. This was an epic domination by the President. I'm glad an honest conversation has finally taken place. We need more of it.

    Paul Ryan held up better than his friends today, but was still dominated.

  4. It proves once again that when the nation faces real challenge, Democrats can handle it, because they believe government can be a positive force in history.

    Republicans, of course, feel that government can't - and, indeed, shouldn't - address our problems.

    That's why Democrats consistently are capable and Republicans, time and again, prove themselves incapable.

  5. How is it the Republicans suddenly have a health-care reform plan, after beating back the issue in the '90s, then ignoring it all together for the decade they were in power?

    Seems pretty disingenuous.

  6. Anon, 12:18,

    No, Republicans did expand health care under the Bush administration.

    They came up with Medicare Part D, which created a whole new market for drug and insurance companies, though left seniors on the hook for a $5,000 "doughnut hole" of prescription expenses and banned the government from negotiating lower prices.

    Also, they came up with Medicare Advantage, which provides additional business for insurance companies but costs an additional 20 percent more for each Medicare recipient.

    They're not heartless, so long as their business constituency realizes a profit.

    I'm certain Republicans would back a health care plan that would apply to everyone, so long as insurance companies and drug companies realized a significant profit.

    I'd imagine that is their plan.

  7. I only took Economics 101, but if we cut taxes and cut spending at the same time, doesn't one just cancel out the other, leaving us with the same problem which we have now? And if we cut taxes and cut spending without an economic stimulus, don't we just increase deficits?

  8. 12:40, both tax cuts and spending increases are stimulative (increase GDP) and spending decreases and tax increases decrease GDP. Unless you are a supply-sider (for tax cuts) or Nancy Pelosi (for spending increases), no serious economist believes that government tax cuts or spending increases grow GDP more than it would have net over time. The only question is whether we should do spending increases and tax cuts during a recession to accelerate the stimulative effect. (And then, presumably, pay for them later.)

    So yes, cutting taxes and spending simultaneously and equally would have zero net effect in the short term. ... I think most on the right are arguing that the left has put no plan in place to ever repay the debt, and that the left's spending increases are not helping. They're just worsening the problem (started under Bush 43.)


  9. In my years, I do not recall such a open display of communication between the parties. Sure they disagree, but I think this is useful.

    It reinforced my assertion that, in time, Mr. Obama will be seen as the great president he is. Not a great start for him, but he is learning. It's always darkest before the dawn.

  10. Not sure about the face time issues. Paul is seen all over his district and very approachable. If our US Senators were as easy to access things would be better. I have met Paul a few times over the years at events and meetings. Paul is an easy guy to talk to and listens to what you have to say.

  11. Give em HELL Paul!

  12. It is a shame that the GOP will never allow the next retreat with the President to be broadcast again.

    The President went 1 to 148 and was clear, forceful and highly. highly competent. He dismantled their assertions one by one.

    They won't make that mistake again.

  13. This post assumes that the 84% increase in domestic discretionary spending figure is correct. In looking at the 2010 federal spending budget, all I see is a 13% increase in discretionary spending over 2009 (not that that is a small number).

    Where does this 84% calculation come from? I assume it's some sort of qualifier with the word "domestic," but no single federal department increases by anywhere close to that percentage.

    Not trying to be snide; honestly curious where this 84% comes from.

  14. We are close to a point where there are two Americas. The America that pays taxes and the American that receives public benefits. This is a dangerously polarizing situation that pits Americans against each other. We need to be a united nation that is willing to be taxed for benefits that we agree are necessary. The notion of subjecting some groups of Americans to taxes voted on by people who are exempt is a corrupt practice and must stop.

  15. Obama left out a few details.

    The key is to watch what Obama does and not what he says. They are two very different things

    1) he held meetings with unions, pharma, insurance companies outside of the public eye. He cut deals with contributers

    2) Republicans have offered up plans for the economy and healthcare but due to the Dems 60 votes they didn't think they needed them involved.

    3) he answered criticism about placing lobbyists into key cabinet positions with "I am better then most Presidents" Funny thing was he put three people with socialist ties and three tax evaders. Is that the character you want in your president?

    Being a Constitutionalist, I am not please with he Repubs over the past 4 years but they are have been the only thing in Washington that keeps us from going more towards socialism. Thank God for the Tea Party movement!!!

  16. I believe that our government is screwing up the future for my kids. There is no such thing as free lunch and there is a sizable amount of you that thinks that government should provide you with everything.

    For those of you that want these entitlements do you ever take a moment to ask where the money will come from? How much tax should government be entitled to take from me? We are on an unsustainable path that will collapse our country if we don't stop spending feel good money. Government has created the banking bubble, housing bubble, now the automotive bubble, bio fuel bubble and on and on and on. Government has proven it doesn't know what it is doing. They are just placating you.

    Government seems to ruin everything it touches yet many of you think its OK for government to take from someone else and give it to you. For those of you that think this way, you are complicit in theft.

  17. This is very interesting! I never thought about it this way. Perhaps this is why so many physicians are conservatives or republicans.

    The Democrat Party has become the Lawyers' Party.

    Barack Obama is a lawyer.

    Michelle Obama is a lawyer.

    Hillary Clinton is a lawyer.

    Bill Clinton is a lawyer.

    John Edwards is a lawyer.

    Elizabeth Edwards is a lawyer.

    Every Democrat nominee since 1984 went to law school (although Gore did not graduate).

    Every Democrat vice presidential nominee since 1976, except for Lloyd Bentsen, went to law school.

    Look at leaders of the Democrat Party in Congress:

    Harry Reid is a lawyer.

    Nancy Pelosi is a lawyer.

    The Republican Party is different.

    President Bush is a businessman..

    Vice President Cheney is a businessman.

    The leaders of the Republican Revolution:

    Newt Gingrich was a history professor.

    Tom Delay was an exterminator. Dick Armey was an economist.

    House Minority Leader Boehner was a plastic manufacturer.

    The former Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist is a heart surgeon.

    Go figure.

  18. ANON 12:26 AM

    what are you, a communist? Without profit there is no growth in jobs. Why do think that we are at 11% unemployment?

    Yes it's true that Bush expanded government healthcare for seniors and just about every Democrat voted for it. Proof again that Big government sucks at controlling spending. It's corrupt, inefficient and ineffective. More freebies and entitlements for everyone, please
    We are bankrupt!!!!

  19. Obama looked like a clown yesterday - but if all you saw were the edited excerpts from the nightly news, he looked OK.

    In general, the Republicans schooled our inexperienced socialist president.

  20. Anon, 1:14

    Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, John Jay, James Madison, and Alexander Hamilton were lawyers.

    Benjamin Franklin was a (gasp!) newspaperman and George Washington, as surveyor and general, was a government employee.

    So, what's your point?

  21. You are both partially correct. By today's standard, lawyers are quite a bit different than 200 years ago. Most lawyers like Jefferson were not full-time. Most had other occupations. I think the point that was made is that it appears that most Dem leaders are trial lawyers. Trial lawyers sue to make money:) They don't create jobs the old fashioned way :)


  22. Thanks, Anon 1:57.

    One person's non-productive leech is another person's champion for justice.

  23. Did this make the front page of the Journal Times?

  24. This was a great event. Obama should confront the GOP at least once a month.

  25. blaw blaw blaw,
    It's all BS. It all boils down to one thing. Freedom vs. Tyranny. Whenever any ideology is in the super power they press their agenda to enslave the populous to do their will. Clean the slate down to our Founding Fathers documents and start over.

  26. I'm with Anon 10:44. We need to oust every incumbent, only elect those who promise to institute term limits, and return the powers back to the states that the Fed has usurped over the past 60 years. Return to the intent of the Constitution, ban socialist, communist and fascist political parties that wage war against our constitution. Ban religions that wage war against the innocent civilians within U.S. borders. Bring our troops home and quit policing the world. Get the U.N. off our soil and resign from it! And quit sending money to countries that hate us!!