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Watch Paul Ryan's Response to the President, Read the Transcript

1:19 PM, Apr 15, 2011 • By MARK HEMINGWAY
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Yesterday, e21 sponsored an event Fred Barnes, executive editor of THE WEEKLY STANDARD, held a Q&A session with GOP Budget Committee chair Paul Ryan. The forum gave the congressman a chance to respond to the president's recent attacks on his budget proposal. You can watch the video below, and a transcript of the event follows:

MR. WEHNER: I'm Peter Wehner, managing director of the Washington office of e21. It's a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization that's dedicated to economic research and innovative public policies for the 21st century. And I just encourage you to go to the website if you can at I think you'll find the work there to be serious, intellectually serious. It's based on empirical evidence, not ideology, and we're proud of the work there and we would just encourage you to go there.

And we're proud as well to be hosting this event. Last week, Paul Ryan, chairman of the House Budget committee, released a budget that was historic. It was politically and intellectually a very impressive document, and it reshaped the public debate in Washington.

Among other things, it smoked the President of the United States out. He had been something of a passive bystander in this debate, but I think it's fair to say that the House budget forced him to come forward. And yesterday, at George Washington University, in a speech he struck back.

And we thought it would be a good idea to have Paul Ryan as the author and the architect of the House budget proposal to have a chance to respond to what the President said, and the venue that we chose is to have a conversation with one of America's most distinguished journalists, Fred Barnes. So they will be speaking, having a conversation for about 40, 45 minutes, and then we'll open it up to Q&A from all of you. So without further adieu, I'll turn it over to Fred.

MR. BARNES: Thank you, Pete. Congressman Ryan, before we get to the President's speech yesterday, let me ask a quick question about the continuing resolution that's going to be voted on this afternoon for the rest of the 2011 budget. Is it going to pass?

REP. RYAN: I think so.

MR. BARNES: Good. We'll leave it at that. You were invited by the President to show up for his speech, sat in the front row at George University. What were you expecting and what did you get?

REP. RYAN: Well, I was expecting from actually speaking with some Democrats that it was going to be an olive branch speech, that we were going to see the President get engaged in the issue of our time, our fiscal crisis, offer some details and specifics. In particular, we thought he was going to offer some solutions on Social Security which I thought was going to be a concrete step in the right direction. And I the impression we were given was that, you know, we had an agreement on the CR, hammered out agreement and we're going to build on that success going forward with debt limit in the budget and the rest.

So Jeb Hensarling and Dave Kemp and I, members of the Fiscal Commission, members of Congress on the Republican side in the House went with a little bit of optimism. And what we ended up finding out is we got front row seats to President Obama's reelection campaign speech. We basically realized fairly quickly that this wasn't about building bridges, it was about partisanship. It was about basically what his 2012 election speech is going to be all about.

You know, when I put this budget out, believe you me, I've been doing budgets for a long time, I knew that we were going to get a lot of partisan attacks. This is what parties do to each other, unfortunately, but it is and both parties do it. I expected Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid to come out, you know, with attacks. We didn't expect it from the Commander in Chief, and when the Commander in Chief sort of brings himself down to the level of the partisan mosh pit that we've been in, that we are in, it makes it more difficult to bring that kind of leadership.

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