The Ryan Budget’s Political Impact

Posted on April 11, 2012. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , |

By Scott Orr

The GOP-controlled House passed a sweeping overhaul of federal spending priorities championed by Wisconsin Republican Rep. Paul Ryan, the chairman of the House Budget Committee.

This bill, of course, is going nowhere and normally it would be dismissed as a meaningless piece of political posturing. But this is an election year and the so-called Ryan budget has presented a new platform for argument and a juicy target for the Obama campaign in its strategy to paint the Republicans as unfriendly to America’s middle class.

It’s very difficult to see how Ryan believed he was helping his party and its presumptive presidential nominee, Mitt Romney, by issuing a budget document that is far outside the mainstream of current budgetary and political thought.

As expected, the president attacked the budget, and by extension Romney, who has been endorsed by and campaigned with Ryan. Obama appeared to relish the chance to highlight the Ryan plan and his criticism was sharp:

“It’s a Trojan Horse. Disguised as deficit reduction plan, it’s really an attempt to impose a radical vision on our country. It’s nothing but thinly-veiled Social Darwinism,” the president said in a speech at the Associated Press luncheon in Washington.

He said the budget would slice funding for education, research and other federal programs needed to build the economy while preserving advantages for big business and the wealthy.

The next day, Romney replied saying Obama’s remarks contained “so many things that I found to be distortions and inaccuracies it’s hard to give a full list.”

Both Romney and Ryan said the president’s dire predictions that the GOP plan would cut Head Start benefits for 200,000 kids or end 4,500 federal anti-crime grants, is based on an incorrect assumption that the cuts would be distributed evenly across the board.

The House approved Ryan’s $3.5 trillion fiscal 2013 budget by a strictly partisan vote of 228-191. The plan would overhaul Medicare and cut food stamps, Pell grants and other programs for the poor, while reducing taxes on the rich.

It is true that the Ryan plan does not make specific cuts to federal programs and priorities like education and law enforcement which could escape the axe. But this is also one of Obama’s criticisms: The plan calls for broad spending cuts, but lack specifics on exactly how those savings would be realized.

Whether or not the Ryan plan is the answer to America’s deep budget problems, it is certainly a new platform for election year debate and a nice target for attack for the Obama campaign.

Turner GPA is a leading D.C.-based national lobbying and government affairs firm dedicated to delivering cutting edge policy advocacy for the manufacturing, defense, aerospace, health and energy industries. Members of our professional policy team can be reached at (202) 466-2511. We are also on the Web at

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