Saturday, August 11, 2012

Ryan and Obama ... It's Personal ... But It Will Serve to Better Inform We the People

It appears that we're going to have a real donnybrook of a presidential campaign this summer and fall.

In my view, that's a very timely and equally good thing for We the People to have. 

It will force us to make real choices about the future direction, financial health and overall prosperity and well being of our country and its citizens.

Now think back to early 2011 while reading the following article about the confrontation and harsh words spoken by both Barack Obama and Paul Ryan.

For White House and Ryan, Deficit Became Personal says this about the feud and how it began:

"On April 13, 2011, Republican House Budget Committee Chairman Rep. Paul Ryan sat in the front row of a George Washington University auditorium in what would become a telling—and highly personal—moment in the consuming debate about the scope and size of government.

President Barack Obama, finally unveiling his 12-year, $4 trillion deficit reduction plan, singled out a competing plan offered by Mr. Ryan just six days before and – in front of a global audience – attempted to shred it.

It "ends Medicare as we know it," Mr. Obama said, adding that there was "nothing serious" about Mr. Ryan's proposal to lower taxes.

Mr. Ryan and Mr. Obama didn't lock eyes during the speech, even though they were just yards from each other, with the Wisconsin Republican scribbling notes furiously on paper. When the speech was over, he turned to make a quick exit from the room.

The deficit – the gap between how much money the government spends each year and how much it brings in through taxes – has been at least $1 trillion each year Mr. Obama was in office, and the president was under enormous political pressure to bring it down. Republicans won control of the House of Representatives just six months earlier in part because of voter frustration that Washington wasn't doing enough to reduce the deficit.

But the White House sat on its plan for weeks, waiting for Mr. Ryan to unveil his proposal first so they would have a Republican blueprint to contrast with their model, sharpening the differences.

The White House's new plan would combine tax increases and spending cuts to slow the growth of government debt. Mr. Ryan's plan would cut spending more deeply by revamping many social programs.

His 73-page plan was called the "Path to Prosperity," and it drew the most attention for what it did to social safety net programs including Medicare and Medicaid. It proposed spending levels that were $6.2 trillion less over 10 years than what Mr. Obama had proposed in February, cutting the deficit sharply during that time.

Mr. Ryan felt the budget pressures on these programs were so extreme – with the rising costs of health care and the aging U.S. population – that fundamental changes were necessary in order to preserve their solvency and effectiveness.

He proposed turning Medicare into a program where the government would primarily help Americans pay their insurance premiums and let private insurers play a bigger role in their care. Medicaid would shift into a program primarily run by states with federal assistance. A number of other social programs would face cuts.

Fiscal conservatives loved the proposal, because it offered – in full detail for perhaps the first time – a conservative framework for arresting the growth of spending. But for liberal groups and the White House, the Ryan budget was red meat.

"We put out our plan, very specific, and you know, some people would say we led with our chin," Mr. Ryan told reporters a year later. "We led with ideas to fix this problem."

Some in the GOP became squeamish. Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R., Ga.) criticized it on "Meet the Press," suggesting it was "right-wing social engineering." Republicans lost a special election in New York that had become a referendum on the Ryan budget.

Yet as much as Mr. Ryan was the standard-bearer for Republican budget thinking, he had worked feverishly with Democrats to find alternatives to fiscal issues in order to win broader support, complicating the cartoon image presented by his opponents.

He was one of three House Republicans appointed to the deficit-reduction commission led by Alan Simpson and Erskine Bowles in 2010, and he crafted a plan with former White House budget director Alice Rivlin to slow the cost of Medicare.

A version of his plan would be incorporated in the Simpson-Bowles proposal, though he'd eventually vote against the broader package. He wanted even deeper changes to health care spending than Messrs. Simpson and Bowles were willing to offer, and he couldn't support anything that fell short, he said.

The day of Mr. Obama's speech in April 2011, Messrs. Simpson and Bowles sat to Mr. Ryan's right at the college auditorium with a stunned look on their faces. They knew Mr. Ryan well from hours spent together debating fiscal policy. And even though Mr. Obama didn't mention Mr. Ryan's name during the speech, they knew the attack was personal. Their mood was somber and Mr. Simpson, normally loquacious and chatty, had little to say.

As Mr. Ryan sped from the room, a top White House official chased him through the aisles.

"Hi, Mr. Chairman, Gene Sperling," Mr. Obama's director of the National Economic Council said, trying to slow Mr. Ryan down with a friendly hello.

"Oh, I thought you were a reporter," Mr. Ryan said, hardly breaking his stride.

A few hours later, Mr. Ryan held a press conference and lit into the White House, saying he had expected an "olive branch" and not a personal attack.

"What we heard today was not fiscal leadership from our commander-in-chief," he said. "We heard a political broadside from our campaigner-in-chief."

Mr. Ryan, continuing his push, said later Republicans had to do a better job of explaining to Americans what would happen to Medicare and Medicaid if big changes weren't made.

"If you just play defense or ignore this, [Democrats] are going to define this, they are going to demagogue you," he told reporters earlier this year. "And they'll get away with it. And they'll scare seniors."

Ten months after the George Washington University incident, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner traveled to Capitol Hill to testify before Mr. Ryan's panel about the White House's proposed budget for fiscal year 2013.

"Leaders are supposed to fix problems," Mr. Ryan lectured Mr. Geithner, demanding the White House offer a new proposal to tackle rising health care costs. Mr. Ryan said the White House's approach to the deficit would bring on a "European-style debt crisis."

"We are not coming before you today to say we have a definitive solution to that long-term problem," Mr. Geithner said. "What we do know is we don't like yours.""

Summing Up

The 2012 summer and fall political fireworks are just beginning.

Let the people become informed and then decide.

Because things have to change and our problems must be addressed in a serious manner, no matter who serves in the White House these next four years.

An effective and strong self governing society must consist of an informed and involved citizenry.

Let's all hope that is what this Ryan selection by Romney means.

Thanks. Bob.

1 comment:

  1. Our coming presidential campaign will be undeniably tough with ryan and obama as rivals. As my personal opinion, they are both good and deserving to win the president slot. I hope, whoever get the victory may be true and focused in making a better US for the future.