"The case for Mr. Ryan is that he best exemplifies the nature and stakes of this election. More than any other politician, the House Budget Chairman has defined those stakes well as a generational choice about the role of government and whether America will once again become a growth economy or sink into interest-group dominated decline. Against the advice of every Beltway bedwetter, he has put entitlement reform at the center of the public agenda—before it becomes a crisis that requires savage cuts. And he has done so as part of a larger vision that stresses tax reform for faster growth, spending restraint to prevent a Greek-like budget fate, and a Jack Kemp-like belief in opportunity for all. He represents the GOP's new generation of reformers that includes such Governors as Louisiana's Bobby Jindal and New Jersey's Chris Christie. As important, Mr. Ryan can make his case in a reasonable and unthreatening way. He doesn't get mad, or at least he doesn't show it. Like Reagan, he has a basic cheerfulness and Midwestern equanimity. As for Medicare, the Democrats would make Mr. Ryan's budget a target, but then they are already doing it anyway. Mr. Romney has already endorsed a modified version of Mr. Ryan's premium-support Medicare reform, and who better to defend it than the author himself?"
Early in his Administration, President Obama promised to cut the deficit in half. While he clearly did not keep that promise, he has gone on to assert that his budget achieves $4 trillion in deficit reduction, and recently he claimed, “Since I’ve been President, Federal spending has risen at the lowest pace in 60 years.” Many were left wondering how this could be possible with President Obama presiding over unprecedented trillion-dollar deficits for four consecutive years, adding over $5 trillion in new debt since his inauguration, and piling on a slew of new government initiatives including a near-trillion dollar stimulus and a massive new healthcare entitlement. Indeed, a closer look at the evidence shows the President’s claim of spending restraint does not hold up against the facts, and his overall fiscal record doesn’t fare any better.
The President and his allies have offered many excuses for why his fiscal record has been a disappointment. Some of the most prominent are “inheriting a trillion dollar deficit,” experiencing a “deeper recession than anyone anticipated,” and disagreement about who was responsible for actions taken in fiscal 2009 – a transition year when both Presidents Bush and Obama held office.
This paper examines the President’s fiscal record from various perspectives in comparison to his numerous assertions of fiscal responsibility. The analysis addresses both the President’s actual fiscal record and his budget proposals going forward. Additional context is provided by exploring the President’s fiscal record under unified Democratic control of government during 2009-2010 and what happened afterward under divided government with a Republican-controlled House of Representatives.
As will be made clear throughout, the President’s fiscal record has been a failure regardless of the yardstick chosen to measure it. His assertions to the contrary are misleading at best, and his budget proposals for the future would perpetuate and aggravate an already dangerous fiscal situation.
• Spending surged 18% in 2009 reaching 25% of GDP - the highest since World War II
• Deficits exceeded $1 trillion in each of the four years of the President’s term
• Gross debt has increased over $5 trillion since the President was inaugurated
• Even adjusting for a weak economy and Bush-era policies, President Obama has signed legislation increasing deficits by $1.6 trillion over his term
• Republicans in the 112th Congress have stopped the spending spree and have forced the President to accept over $2.3 trillion in future deficit reduction
Read the full report HERE
REVIEW & OUTLOOK Updated August 11, 2012, 9:57 p.m. ET
The Ryan Choice
Romney selects a leader of the GOP's reform wing.
Vice Presidential choices rarely sway electoral outcomes, but they do reveal something about the men who make the choices. As Mr. Romney's first Presidential-level decision, the selection speaks well of his governing potential. He broke free of the stereotype that he is a cautious technocrat by picking Mr. Ryan, a man who has offered reforms that the country needs but are feared by the GOP's consultant class and much of his own party.
Mr. Romney is signaling that he realizes he needs a mandate if he is elected, which means putting his reform ideas before the American people for a clear endorsement. He is treating the public like grown-ups, in contrast to President Obama's focus on divisive and personal character attacks.
The Ryan choice also suggests that Mr. Romney understands that to defeat Mr. Obama he'll have to do more than highlight the President's economic failures. He must also show Americans that he has a tangible, specific reform agenda that will produce faster growth and rising incomes.
Mr. Ryan is well equipped to help him promote such an agenda. The seven-term Congressman grew up in the GOP's growth wing and supply-side ranks as a protege of Jack Kemp. Far from being a typical House Republican, he was a dissenter from the Tom DeLay do-little Congress in the last decade. He began talking about his reform blueprint in the George W. Bush years when everyone said he was committing political suicide.
The Ryan Selection
Why Not Paul Ryan?
The GOP Budget and America's Future
Ryan's Charge Up Entitlement Hill
Ignored in 2008, his agenda began to look prescient in 2010 as Mr. Obama's policies produced persistently high unemployment, the slowest recovery in decades, and exploding, unsustainable debt. In 2011, Mr. Ryan won the battle inside the House GOP to take on entitlements, including Medicare. The budget showed the courage of Republican reform convictions and helped smoke out Mr. Obama's insincerity on spending cuts and budget reform.
Democrats and media liberals also claim to be thrilled with the choice, boasting that they can now nationalize the election around the Ryan budget. But behind that bluster you can also detect some trepidation. In Mr. Ryan, they face a conservative advocate who knows the facts and philosophy of his arguments. He is well-liked and makes his case with a cheerful sincerity that can't easily be caricatured as extreme. He carries his swing Wisconsin district easily though it often supports Democrats for President.
This may be why, in his meetings with House Republicans, Mr. Obama has always shied away from directly debating Mr. Ryan on health care and spending. He changed the subject or moved on to someone else. The President knows that Mr. Ryan knows more about the budget and taxes than he does, and that the young Republican can argue the issues in equally moral terms.
Democrats will nonetheless roll out their usual attack lines, and the Romney campaign will have to be more prepared for them than they were for the Bain Capital assault. There's no excuse in particular for letting the White House claim that Mr. Ryan would "end Medicare as we know it" because that is demonstrably false.
Late last year, Mr. Ryan joined Oregon Democratic Senator Ron Wyden in introducing a version of his reform that explicitly retains Medicare as we know it as a continuing option. The reform difference is that seniors would for the first time also have a choice of government-funded private insurance options. The Wyden-Ryan bet is that the choices resulting from private competition will be both cheaper and better.
This "premium-support" model has a long bipartisan pedigree and was endorsed by Democratic Senators John Breaux and Bob Kerrey as part of Bill Clinton's Medicare commission in 1999. Wyden-Ryan is roughly the version of reform that Mr. Romney endorsed earlier this year.
Our advice is that Mr. Romney go on offense on Medicare. He could hit Mr. Obama with ads in Florida and elsewhere for his $716 billion in Medicare cuts, and his plan to cut even more with an unelected rationing board whose decisions under ObamaCare have no legislative or judicial review. Then finish the ads with a positive pitch for the Romney-Ryan-Wyden reform for more patient and medical choice.
In his remarks on Saturday in Norfolk, Mr. Ryan also hit on what is likely to be an emerging Romney theme: leadership that tells Americans the truth. "We will honor you, our fellow citizens, by giving you the right and opportunity to make the choice," he said. "What kind of country do we want to have? What kind of people do we want to be?"
The underlying assumption is that at this moment of declining real incomes and national self-doubt, Americans won't fall for the same old easy demagoguery. They want to hear serious ideas debated seriously. The contrast couldn't be greater with a President who won't run on his record and has offered not a single idea for a second term.
In choosing Mr. Ryan, Mr. Romney is betting that Americans know how much trouble their country is in, and that they will reward the candidate who pays them the compliment of offering solutions that match the magnitude of the problems.