Ryan Takes the Battle to Obama


The Democrats in the Senate have been fighting a rear guard action, trying to obstruct the House Republicans in their drive for budget reform through a series of continuing resolutions (CRs) which are necessary to keep the federal government in operation during the current fiscal year. Some $10 billion has been cut from that budget already.

Notwithstanding this energetic skirmishing, the opening salvo in what promises to be the main engagement on the 2012 budget was fired last week.

The day after St. Patrick’s Day, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) released its analysis of President Obama’s 2012 budget. The significance of this “preliminary analysis” was not lost on House Republican Budget Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI).

“The Congressional Budget Office’s report exposes the widening gulf between the President’s rhetoric and his budget’s reality,” said Ryan. “Simply put, the President’s budget spends too much, taxes too much, and borrows too much-and it continues to heap an unsustainable burden of debt on American families, today and in the future.”

According to the GOP Budget Chairman, the President’s budget can never reach balance over time.

Ryan was ratcheting up his rhetoric from the day before when he had accused the President of “punting” on the budget debate and ignoring the problem. The CBO report seems to have really rattled his cage, understandably so.

Citing a “discouraging lack of leadership,” Chairman Ryan pointed out that President Obama’s budget “completely ignored the recommendations of his own Fiscal Commission, refusing to seriously advance any of their proposals for reining in the runaway spending in our major entitlement programs.”

Specific aspects of the 2012 Administration budget, which were particularly galling to Ryan, were the plans to spend $3.7 trillion or 24.3 percent of GDP, the highest since World War II, and $46.2 trillion over the decade. It would also increase taxes on, well, everyone, by $1.5 trillion. Federal taxes, alone, will reach almost 20 percent of GDP in 2021.

The resulting $1.2 trillion deficit in fiscal year 2012 — the fourth straight record deficit exceeding a trillion dollars — is followed by a doubling of the national debt by 2016 compared to the President’s first year in office. The debt then triples by 2021!

Basically, CBO is saying that the Obama Administration has underestimated federal deficits by $2 trillion over the upcoming decade, as reported by the Associated Press.

Chairman Ryan, of course, understands that the root cause of this hemorrhaging federal spending is the out-of-control entitlement programs — Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security — which have been on autopilot since their inception but are now exploding due to spiraling health costs and the retirement of the Boomer generation. In his opening statement at hearings he conducted on the great saint’s feast day, the Wisconsin Congressman said that entitlements “are growing at unsustainable rates, building trillions of dollars in debt and unfunded promises that jeopardize the programs themselves, the Federal budget, and-ultimately-the entire U.S. economy.”

“The longer Congress waits, the worse these problems become, leading to an inevitable crisis that will force deep, wrenching, sudden changes with profound effects on program beneficiaries,” states Ryan. These programs can be reformed, “but only through honest leadership and real reform.”

The Chairman, who has been calling for and proposing concrete entitlement reform for a long time, believes “we need to have a serious, honest conversation with the American people about these problems.”

“The time for that conversation is now — and I firmly believe the American people are ready for it,” said Ryan, expressing what may be the triumph of hope over experience if some recent public polling is to be believed. But what, really, is the alternative? National bankruptcy?

Unfortunately, President Obama seems to be hunkered down, failing to engage on these consequential matters, presumably hoping to play a sort of rope-a-dope strategy and skate through to re-election. This may not be as easy as he once thought given the recent letter he received from a bipartisan group of 64 senators calling on him to show some leadership on cutting the deficit.

Whatever stance the President ultimately assumes on the coming budget debate for 2012, it is clear that a battle royal is in store for the nation.


About Author

G. Tracy Mehan, III, is a former Assistant Administrator for Water at the U.S. EPA, in the Bush administration. He is a consultant in Arlington, Virginia, and an adjunct professor of law at George Mason University School of Law.

  • Perhaps our esteemed President, whether he wins in 2012 or not, plans to retire to Kenya after his term(s) and so will not be participating in the U.S. economy. It’s the only explanation I can think of for the disinterest of a guy who is just as dependent on the success of our economy as anyone else. He isn’t even doing what any sane person would do, President or plumber, which is look out for his family and his children’s future.

  • Dr Sanity is of the opinion that President Obama fits the profile of what she calls an “idealized object-fixated narcissist.” Narcissistic aggrandizement is displaced from the self onto an idealized object. Grandiosity of self is demonstrated by service to this ideal. Her posts on psychological defense mechanisms are well worth reading. Check out the left sidebar at http://drsanity.blogspot.com

  • arkanabar:

    Glad you are with us on CL.

    Per your comment above, I don’t see Dr. Sanity’s opinion viz. the President. Could you point to a page directly?

    Even if she did develop an opinion, however, there would be little reason to ascribe any but the most tenuous credence to the assessment since she has not examined him, except remotely. We can know this because she would otherwise be bound by patient confidentiality. And, while a remote assessment is a useful psychological tool for the criminal profiler, its general reliability is questionable, not to mention possibly unethical (at least by APA Standard 9.01b).

    Is it true that the President suffers from narcissism? Maybe, but to at least some extent, all seeking the office must. But for, perhaps, Washington, each candidate believes himself to know that he and his ideas are the best way to lead the country. Does it rise to the level of a disorder? There is no way to know, accurately, without an assessment by a psychologist / psychiatrist. And the results would not be generally available to the public.

    Finally, for the doctor to offer such an opinion up about a person without sound reason seems to violate the Virtue of Charity (CCC 2478, perhaps). A man’s politics, public moral failings, or discussions about fitness for office based on solid evidence to the contrary are fair game for discussion, certainly. But speculation about such do not do justice to Charity, as I understand it.

    I’m not an Obama supporter. “My guy” would have been Keyes. The best way to get him out isn’t speculation about his mental state, but sound argument against his policies.

    At least, that’s where I’m sticking.

    In Christ,

  • Dr. Sanity is careful to include caveats; she has no professional-client relationships with the celebrities and politicians she writes about, she doesn’t offer a diagnosis of them; she merely notes when they display many of the behaviors and patterns of a pathologically narcissistic personality, or a person with unhealthy reliance on denial. She also discusses the typical motivations and behaviors of people who are pathologically narcissistic or using unhealthy coping mechanisms.

    I am going to have a very hard time being more specific than “check out the left side link list.”