Paul Ryan calls President Obama “the campaigner-in-chief”

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Reacting to President Obama's debt-reduction speech at George Washington University yesterday, House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan sounded like a kid excited to go trick-or-treating, only to wind up with a bunch of apples full of razor blades. Let down by what he perceived as a failure to address an insolvent social-security system, he excoriated Obama's "partisan, political broadsides," calling him "the campaigner-in-chief," and saying "rather than building bridges he's poisoning wells."

In the quest to manage an affordable entitlement state, the arcana of budget resolutions and appropriations are lost on most people. All we hear is bipartisan bickering and huge sums bandied about, like the four trillion in "phantom" deficit reductions. President Obama wants to simplify the tax code, streamline federal agencies, reform Medicare and Medicaid, and cut defense spending. But this is too vague for Ryan and company. There is nothing "serious or courageous" about this plan. It's not a plan, it's a "speech," it's "punting" the political football, it's kicking the can down the road, and whatever other fun analogy or metaphor you can think of.

With all the talk of taking our medicine and being "adults," there shouldn't be any disagreement about deeply pessimistic cuts that afford over a trillion dollars in tax breaks to the wealthy. And Ryan is right to want a flatter, fairer, simpler tax system. Maybe Obama should have listened to the recommendations of his own Fiscal Commission, because then maybe he wouldn't have Ryan vociferously shoving The Path to Prosperity in his face.

I don't think anyone has a monopoly on welfare reform, economic growth, and job creation. But even though it's silly to say Obama is just about "speeches, platitudes, and commissions," the GOP does seem to be more vocal in defining the whole budget issue. I just hope that amidst this values-vs.-numbers conflict that's been raging since Reagan's first term we don't keep raising the roof on our debt, and descend into a morass of gridlock and stalemates, as opposed to some sane, bipartisan compromise.