President Obama's Fighting Words
Link from CNN. I think many of us-especially those of us who criticized President Obama for being too soft and compromising too much during his presidency-were pleasantly surprised at the sharpness and tone of his remarks yesterday during his speech which pretty much sliced and diced the Ryan-Romney Budget.
Washington (CNN) -- President Barack Obama launched a major assault Tuesday on the House-passed Republican budget proposal embraced by front-running GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney, calling it "social Darwinism" that would stifle the American dream.
In a speech to a media luncheon, Obama described the measure -- prepared by House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wisconsin, and passed by the House -- as a "Trojan Horse" that is disguised as a deficit reduction plan but actually imposes a "radical vision."
"It is thinly-veiled Social Darwinism," Obama said. "It is antithetical to our entire history as a land of opportunity and upward mobility for everyone who's willing to work for it -- a place where prosperity doesn't trickle down from the top, but grows outward from the heart of the middle class."
He added that "by gutting the very things we need to grow an economy that's built to last -- education and training; research and development; infrastructure -- it's a prescription for decline."
My thoughts on why this was a genius move.
1. It immediately made news because of all the intense whining on the right. How dare President Obama be so mean to poor Paul Ryan? Ryan cares so much about the deficit but President Obama is just not serious/where is HIS plan? President Obama knew it would drive them crazy. Afterall, they are used to him just being Mr. Nice Guy and trying to negotiate even when they make it clear they will not budge an inch. They don't like this "taste of their own medicine." Where is their punching bag? Team Obama knew the far right would not just ignore this instigation and would take the bait easily.
2. Since they are on the defensive on the Ryan Budget, the media will cast it's focus accordingly and ask them to defend it over and over, which is hard to do when you are asked for details. Republicans may have had a winning issue on gas prices but they feel compelled to abandon that to defend their big budget ideas. Score 1 for President Obama getting the upper hand.
3. It forces Republicans to defend something that is indefensible. A budget which gives further tax breaks to the rich on the backs of the poor and Middle Class. And it still increases the deficit! Since they can't rebut the facts, they are left with "President Obama is just trying to divide the nation and inspire Class Warfare." The reality? The majority of people know that "trickle down" does not work, know the Ryan Plan is a recipe for disaster and support higher taxes on the rich rather than cuts which impact the poor and Middle Class. President Obama answers these accusations with "It's not Class Warfare. It's Math." Another winner for the president.
4. President Obama weaves Ronald Reagan into his speech, saying that even his ideas would be rejected by the current Republican leadership. He even gives examples! Bonus points on that one-must have really driven the far right crazy!
By invoking Reagan, a beloved Republican, Obama sought to take GOP charges of Obama extremism and turn them back on the party. He cited a presidential debate in the current campaign in which the entire field of Republican candidates rejected the idea of $10 in spending cuts for every $1 in tax hikes if that were offered in a debt-reduction deal.
"Ronald Reagan, who, as I recall, is not accused of being a tax-and-spend socialist, understood repeatedly that when the deficit started to get out of control — that for him to make a deal — he would have to propose both spending cuts and tax increases," Obama said. "He could not get through a Republican primary today."
Obama, in fact, managed to mention and associate his thinking with six Republican presidents, from Abraham Lincoln to George W. Bush.
By contrast, he portrayed today's opposition leadership as abandoning centrist positions and compromise.
"We have to think about our fellow citizens, with whom we share a community," Obama said. "This sense of responsibility to each other and our country, this isn't a partisan feeling. This isn't a Democratic or a Republican idea; it's patriotism."
5. President Obama joins Ryan and Romney at the hip. Romney has embraced the Ryan Plan so now he needs to own it. He can't run from it even when he gets into "Etch-a-Sketch" mode.
6. President Obama has learned a few things from the Tea Party success. He is using words like "Social Darwinism, "radical" and "extreme" to describe this plan.
7. President Obama and the Democrats may not have put out an official budget plan but they are certainly proudly listing many BALANCED budget ideas and showing how they contrast with the Ryan-Romney Budget plans.
I know some will say: "Well we have a good 'Campaigner-in-Chief' but I'd rather see our President using his energy to work with Republicans and compromise to get a bipartisan budget actually passed" But the Republicans made it clear long ago that they have a "my way or the highway" attitude which will get us no where. So at least the President can campaign on his budget ideas and can accomplish much more in a second term if the election yields overwhelming support for his ideas and rejection of the Ryan-Romney Budget.