President Obama, having ceded the initial ground on deficit reduction to Republican Paul Ryan, answered the Ryan plan in a speech this week. The President, in broad brush strokes, offered that we need to attack the deficit in a more balanced way than Paul Ryan has suggested, including cuts but also including tax increases for the top wage earners. It appears to me that the President still needs to put some detail into the plan, but there was enough there to paint a stark contrast with the Republicans. From the New York Times:
“They want to give people like me a $200,000 tax cut that’s paid for by asking 33 seniors to each pay $6,000 more in health costs? That’s not right, and it’s not going to happen as long as I am president,” Mr. Obama said, his only line that drew applause.
The President was accused by Republicans of partisan rhetoric, but it is hard to take that charge seriously after the pounding they have given to the President on the deficit issue. I did find it odd that the President invited Chairman Ryan and Chairman Camp to the speech, and then ripped their jocks off, but I guess you can say that he wasn’t disparaging them behind their backs.
The Republican proposal is not really a deficit reduction plan, but rather a tax cutting plan that promotes Republican orthodoxy. The President has laid down a political marker, and the upcoming political battle will be defining for the Presidential race in 2012.