The president's highly anticipated budget presentation was a mulligan, not the work of a competent White House, says Grover Norquist. And it revealed just how worried Obama is about Rep. Paul Ryan’s proposal.
We learned several things from President Obama’s speech today promising to revise the budget he presented to America as a serious effort only 60 days ago. First, he is running for re-election on “hope and change.” He will not run as the president dealing with the overspending problem he exacerbated, but as a commentator on the passing scene. “Oh, there’s a train wreck. Not good. Someone should do something soon.” He rushed out to respond inside the news cycle to the Paul Ryan 2012 budget plan, which will reduce Obama’s federal government spending by $6 trillion over the next 10 years. His own plan is to sort of endorse a series of essays written by two aged politicians: Alan Simpson and Erskine Bowles. Quick: make a list of tax increases and spending cuts the president said he would fight for in this budget. I don’t know either.
Second, Obama is scared of Ryan’s budget plan. He does not think it is politically risky for the Republicans. His political advisers have known the outlines of Paul Ryan’s budget for months. It has been scored by the CBO. It is actually written down in English. If Chicago believed Paul Ryan’s budget was a giant target, Obama would have offered nothing in reaction and allowed the Ryan plan to be criticized for six Sunday shows in a row.
If Chicago believed Paul Ryan’s budget was a giant target, Obama would have offered nothing in reaction and allowed the Ryan plan to be criticized for six Sunday shows in a row.
But Ryan did not present the target or straw man they foolishly hoped and planned for. Ryan takes the successful welfare reform plan of 1996 that reduced the costs and size of Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) and applies it to Medicaid, food stamps and dozens of means-tested welfare programs. How do Democrats argue against that approach? It was Bill Clinton’s idea, after all. And on Medicare reform, the Republicans don’t touch any benefits for those older than 55. Savings come from reforms over time. There is no cut and slash. No one to scare. Just reforms that save real money over time. By not rushing, the GOP makes bigger spending reductions possible. And Obama has already promised to cut $500 billion from Medicare. He lives in a glass house of his own imagining.
This was a mulligan, not the work of a competent White House.
Grover Norquist is president of Americans for Tax Reform.