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Obama Picks a Strange Fight

Ryan vs. Obama.

12:31 PM, Apr 15, 2011 • By JEFFREY H. ANDERSON
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The only thing that Obama’s “framework”—not a budget—really succeeds in doing is showing his true political colors. It more plainly shows him to be an across-the-board liberal whose solution to rising debt—a greatly disproportionate share of which has been amassed on his watch—is to soak the rich, weaken our nation’s defenses, and further centralize and consolidate power (and control) in Washington.

Moreover, his budgetary “savings” are almost completely unbelievable. Without having produced a budget to this effect, Obama claims that his “framework” would cut deficits by $4 trillion. But he also says that his framework “builds on the roughly $1 trillion in deficit reduction [he] already proposed in my 2012 budget.” The Congressional Budget Office (CBO), however, says that Obama’s 2012 budget would add almost $3 trillion to our deficits, even on top of the roughly $7 trillion in deficits that we are already set to accrue under current law. So Obama’s claim about his current budget is off by about $4 trillion. To put it otherwise, Obama already thinks his budget would reduce deficits by about $4 trillion in relation to the CBO’s scoring of his budget. How believable does that make his projections for his “framework”?

Ryan has already shown his willingness to fight back and to defend his well-conceived proposal. Within hours of the president's speech, Ryan said, “When the president reached out to ask us to attend his speech, we were expecting an olive branch. Instead, his speech was excessively partisan, dramatically inaccurate, and hopelessly inadequate to address our fiscal crisis.” He added, “When the president is ready to get serious about confronting this challenge, we'll be here.”

On the larger point of Obama having given a speech of this nature at all, one wonders what he was thinking. On some level, it is understandable that with no one to the right of the New York Times respecting his current budget, and with Ryan’s budget gaining substantial, if often grudging, praise from mainstream media outlets, Obama would want to be in the game. But the last thing that one should do is choose to go head-to-head on budgetary matters with the person who perhaps knows more about such matters than any other prominent elected official in America—especially when you have nothing particularly worthwhile of your own to offer. In challenging Ryan, Obama has merely highlighted his own inadequacies.

One gets the sense that, despite the clear verdict that the American people registered in 2010, Obama greatly underestimates how attuned voters are to the issue of the debt and how well aware they are that serious leadership is needed to address it. This was perhaps one irresponsible, partisan, disingenuous, misleading, and inaccurate speech too many. Increasingly, Obama is looking like a charlatan, and it’s becoming progressively harder for Americans not to notice.

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