President Obama delivered a devastating critique of the GOP’s congressional budget blueprint on Tuesday, his most poignant take-down of the plan to date.
In a speech at an annual Associated Press luncheon in downtown Washington, Obama sought to draw a definitive line between his vision for spending and the one crafted by rising Republican star Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.).
“Instead of moderating their views even slightly, the Republicans running Congress right now have doubled down,” Obama said, a reference to the almost-identical plan put forth by Ryan last year. “[They’ve] proposed a budget so far to the right that it makes the Contract With America look like the New Deal.”
The president attacked nearly every aspect of the Ryan plan, which aims to eradicate almost one-third of America’s total publicly-held debt by 2023. Obama said that the “radical” proposal would endanger the future of the country by shredding discretionary budgets.
“If this budget becomes law and the cuts were applied evenly, starting in 2014, over 200,000 children would lose their chance to get an early education in the Head Start program. Two million mothers and young children would be cut from a program that gives them access to healthy food. There would be 4,500 fewer federal grants at the Department of Justice and the FBI to combat violent crime, financial crime, and help secure our borders. Hundreds of national parks would be forced to close for part or all of the year. We wouldn’t have the capacity to enforce the laws that protect the air we breathe, the water we drink, or the food that we eat.”
“That’s just a partial sampling of the consequences of this budget,” Obama added.
He called out Mitt Romney, his likely opponent in the general election this Fall, by name, pointing out that Romney has embraced Ryan’s plan.
“This is now the party’s governing platform. This is what they’re running on. One of my potential opponents, Governor Romney, has said that he hoped a similar version of this plan from last year would be introduced as a bill on day one of his presidency. He said that he’s “very supportive” of this new budget, and he even called it “marvelous” — which is a word you don’t often hear when it comes to describing a budget.”
Obama also cited Romney’s primary opponent, Newt Gingrich, who last year described the plan as an example of “right-wing social engineering.”
Ryan, himself, shot back at the president, accusing him of playing politics instead of working to balance the nation’s budget.
“History will not be kind to a President who, when it came time to confront our generation’s defining challenge, chose to duck and run,” said the House Budget Committee Chairman. “The President refuses to take responsibility for the economy and refuses to offer a credible plan to address the most predictable economic crisis in our history. Instead, he has chosen tired and cynical political attacks as he focuses on his own re-election.”
House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) chimed in, defending Ryan against Obama’s attacks.
“House Republicans, led by Chairman Ryan, passed a responsible budget that would help put Americans back to work, protect our seniors, close President Obama’s massive budget deficits, and do ‘all of the above’ to address high gas prices. It makes the tough choices the president refuses to make to address the staggering deficits and debt that are slowing our economic recovery, costing jobs, and threatening to destroy the American dream. Republicans are committed to the budget we’ve put forward, and committed to solving the serious economic and fiscal challenges our country faces. It’s time for the president to join us.”
In addition, the top Republican on the Senate Budget Committee, Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), also weighed in on the president’s speech.
“Our per-person government debt is now worse than that of Greece. Yet the tax hikes in the president’s budget proposal are used to fuel a $1.6 trillion increase in government spending — not to reduce the deficit. President Obama might have more credibility on these matters were his plan not rejected 0-414 in the House and, the year before, 0-97 in the Senate.”
This article was updated with additional information at 3:55 p.m.