Paul Ryan forcefully attacked the Obama administration tonight. But many of the criticisms he leveled against Barack Obama apply equally to his and Mitt Romney’s own records.
Ryan attacked Obama’s Patient Protection Affordable Care Act for being laden with “mandates, taxes, fees and fines that have no place in a free country.” He was talking about mandates such as the one Mitt Romney imposed in Massachusetts.
Ryan decried “$716 billion funneled out of Medicare by President Obama. An obligation we have to our parents and grandparents is being sacrificed, all to pay for a new entitlement we didn’t even ask for.” But the budget House Republicans passed this year, which Ryan wrote, keeps Barack Obama’s Medicare cuts and adds another $205 billion on top.
It's true the Republican budget repeals PPACA, so it doesn’t use the Medicare savings “to pay for a new entitlement.” But if Medicare cuts constitute the abrogation of “an obligation we have to our parents and grandparents,” presumably they’re not OK even if they aren’t used to pay for Medicaid expansion.
Ryan criticized Obama for ignoring his own debt commission. “They came back with an urgent report. He thanked them, sent them on their way, and then did exactly nothing.” That urgent report? Technically, it wasn’t a report from the debt commission. Too many of its members dissented from the report for it to be adopted as the commission’s official report. One of those dissenters was Paul Ryan.
The central attack in the speech is one that I agree with: The Obama administration is adrift on economic policies. “They have run out of ideas. Their moment came and went. Fear and division is all they’ve got left.” But the speech did not make the case that Romney and Ryan would succeed where Obama has failed.
Ryan criticized the president for not addressing the housing crisis. But neither Ryan nor Romney have said what they would do about the housing crisis.
Ryan criticized the president for failing to foster small business and job creation. But the speech contained no concrete ideas to this end other than “tax fairness and regulatory reform,” which is terminally vague.
Ryan criticized the president for shying away from plans to fix the long-term budget gap. But Romney and Ryan do not have a viable plan for making the budget sustainable, and have made several irresponsible promises that will make it hard for them to balance the budget.
Romney and Ryan have promised not to raise taxes, called for a 20 percent cut in income tax rates, pledged to outspend the president by hundreds of billions of dollars on Medicare (reversing Ryan’s former position to the president’s right), and urged big increases in defense spending. How does that constitute being more responsible than Obama on the federal budget?
Ryan is right that Obama has been, in many ways, an underwhelming leader. But he failed to make a case that he and Romney would do any better.
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