If Paul Ryan wanted to dispel his image as a green-eyeshade guy obsessed with deficits, he came to CPAC with the wrong speech.
The former vice-presidential nominee devoted his speech Friday to defending his budget-slashing blueprint and vision of leaner government without really addressing the impasse between his party and the White House.
“We’re not balancing the budget as an accounting exercise,” he told the crowd, which frequently applauded him. “We’re trying to improve people’s lives. Our debt is a threat to this country.”
Ryan was dead serious as he painted a dire picture of the future if the Democrats get their way: skyrocketing interest rates, government printing presses cranking out money, a plummeting dollar, an unraveling economy, the safety net shredded, with “the most vulnerable” Americans suffering most.
This, he said, would be a “moral failure.”
Ryan sounded like Doctor Doom.
And in case anyone was feeling complacent, he said that the cost of Medicare and Social Security would double over the next decade and interest rates would quadruple. “No amount of taxes can prop this up,” he declared.
Ryan pivoted to a blueprint for a smaller government that would function effectively with this kicker: “Chaos is fertile soil for liberalism.”
Ryan remains a folk hero on the right, despite his inability to help Mitt Romney’s candidacy, and he was playing to the conservative crowd, hitting his applause lines on behalf of his House budget, which has no chance of becoming law. He did not mention his recent lunch with President Obama, perhaps sensing that the audience did not want to hear any talk of compromise.