The US spends twice as much per person on health care as other advanced economies, and Medicare is one of the biggest culprits.
Graphic by Rich Clabaugh/The Christian Science Monitor
Numbers from the left and the right: Decoding the Democratic and Republican budget proposals
Photos: (Left) Sen. Patty Murray (D) of Washington put forward a new budget proposal Wednesday. Jason Reed/Reuters
Rising Republican Stars: Rand Paul and other members of the GOP to watch for in 2016.
Ryan vs. Rubio: Senator Marco Rubio may be spearheading the GOP’s immigration reform effort, but Rep. Paul Ryan has been the face of the Party’s fiscal policy.
How did each get to where they are? Should they team up? And most, importantly who will run for president? DC Decoder and Politico explain.
Photos: (Left) Republican vice presidential candidate, Rep. Paul Ryan (R- Wis.) at a campaign rally in August in West Chester, Pa. Photo by Matt Rourke/AP
Florida Senator Marco Rubio addresses the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Fla., in August. Charles Dharapak/AP
Florida Sen. Marco Rubio is still the heavy favorite to be the Republican vice presidential nominee - at least, according to the online betting site Intrade. Rubio’s odds are currently hovering at around 27 percent, far ahead of all other names being bandied about, such as New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez (10 percent), Ohio Sen. Rob Portman (9 percent) and Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan (6 percent).
But while Rubio may still be the conventional wisdom candidate of choice, we think Ryan, the House Budget Chairman, may actually have surpassed him as the real favorite among GOP insiders right now.
More than any other, Ryan seems to embody the right combination of seriousness, impeccable conservative credentials, and a useful regional affiliation. He is safer than Rubio or Martinez but not as boring as Portman or Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell; he would complement Romney (and this is, of course, assuming Romney is the eventual nominee) without overshadowing him. Perhaps most important, Ryan would bring an authenticity and a kind of political courage to the ticket - embodied in his willingness to make tough choices when it comes to entitlement reform - that Romney has seemed to lack.
One piece of evidence that Ryan’s vice presidential stock is indeed rising: President Obama is attacking him. In remarks at an Associated Press luncheon Tuesday, excerpts of which were released in advance by the White House, Obama ripped into Ryan’s budget plan as “thinly-veiled Social Darwinism.” Obama surrogates have begun referring to the “Romney-Ryan budget,” while the DNC released an online attack ad putting the two men in a Valentine’s heart to a spoof of the tune “That’s Amore.” (For what it’s worth, the ad uses Ryan’s comments from his appearance at a recent Monitor breakfast, in which he praised Romney’s entitlement speech as “very good.” )
A factor behind this growing wind at Ryan’s back may have been the much-discussed HBO film “Game Change,” which clearly spelled out the dangers of putting a thinly vetted candidate on the ticket in a bid for starpower. There has been much chatter in the wake of the film’s premiere about how the Palin pick in 2008 made it all but impossible for Romney to go with any candidate not widely seen as qualified to be president (read: with serious policy chops). This growing consensus was summed up in a Boston Globe op-ed by former New Hampshire Sen. John Sununu - whose father has been a vocal Romney surrogate - warning Romney about the perils of putting “a brand new face” on the ticket instead of a “serious, experienced” candidate.
It’s true that Romney needs to improve his performance among Hispanic voters and women. But it’s not a given that putting a Hispanic or a woman on the ticket would automatically help with either of those problems. And it would run the risk of looking more like a political calculation - a Palin-like choice - than a principled decision about who would be best positioned to serve.
Today’s Wisconsin primary has also put Ryan front and center in the campaign landscape, as he has joined Romney on the trail after endorsing him late last week. And his popularity among the GOP base has been on full display: During a weekend appearance at a Faith and Freedom Coalition convention, CBS News reported that the crowd’s “heartiest applause” did not go to any of the presidential candidates (Romney, Rick Santorum, or Newt Gingrich) but to Ryan. Perhaps most important, the two men look comfortable with one another. The footage of them campaigning has been largely flattering to both - including the April Fool’s Day prank that Ryan and some Romney staffers played on the former Massachusetts governor, bringing him to a purported campaign stop that was in fact an empty room.
Unlike Rubio, who still insists he has no interest in being vice president (and who followed his endorsement of Romney by telling The Daily Caller, “there are a lot of other people out there that some of us wish had run for president — but they didn’t”), Ryan has indicated an interest in joining the ticket and has been a strong advocate for Romney on the stump. Although Romney was already favored to win in Wisconsin, Ryan’s endorsement may well carry him to an even more resounding victory tonight. And if Ryan winds up on the ticket, it could potentially put Wisconsin in play in the fall.
— Liz Marlantes
Paul Ryan’s budget, 2012 edition, looks substantially like its 2011 predecessor. But it doesn’t sound the same.
Gone are the snippets from political philosopher John Locke and the venerated words of various saints of American political history — Thomas Jefferson, Ronald Reagan and Theodore Roosevelt among them.
In short, Ryan 2011 sounds like a graduate thesis on statistical steroids. Ryan 2012 is like an 80-page campaign commercial.
The distinctions help map out where the country was in 2011, how Republicans have responded to the initial Ryan budget, and how they see the budget in the context of the 2012 campaign.
Back in 2011, Republicans had just surged back into the House of Representatives on a wave of back-to-the-roots conservative groundswell. Under the broad heading of the tea party, the movement that gave Paul Ryan the gavel of the House Budget Committee was going to get its out-of-control government — Obamacare, the stimulus, bailouts of the automotive and financial industries — under control.
At that moment, Ryan wrote a budget that sounds like it could be delivered as the keynote for the Jim DeMint Prize in Economic Freedom. Ryan ties the Declaration of Independence (publication date: 1776) with Adam Smith’s “The Wealth of Nations” (publication date: 1776), noting a confluence of moral and economic sentiments.
It’s a brisk walk from there through Locke, George Washington, Alexis de Tocqueville and Alexandr Solzhenitsyn who give us one general thought: Commerce is good, America has is great because it recognizes this, and American commerce is part and parcel of the nation’s moral underpinnings. From there, the 2011 budget propositions grow.
They got hammered by Democrats who, in one memorable campaign ad, showed a Paul Ryan look alike literally pushing grandma (Medicare) off a cliff. This year, Sherman continues, Republicans got a lesson in political messaging before the budget saw the light of day: say things like “bipartisan” and claim to “fix” Medicare to “keep it from going bankrupt.”
Reading the 2012 budget, this lesson was well-heeded.
The first page of the 2012 Ryan budget is a chart titled “A Contrast in Visions,” stacking up Ryan’s budget against President Obama’s. While James Madison and Winston Churchill make cameos in the introduction, the most frequently-footnoted non-technical source in the document may very well be Barack Obama, as Ryan continually contrasts his views with that of the President.
Republicans, Ryan’s 2012 budget says, aren’t flying off the tea party handle any longer. This is a budget about the President as much as it is about the GOP, echoing the theme that many Republican elder statesmen have noted over the past several months: Republicans may not be fired up by their presidential choices but they’re definitely enthusiastic to beat Barack Obama.
But for all the changes, one thing has stayed the same: Ryan’s insistence that we’ve reached a historic moment to deal with America’s financial challenges.
“It is rare in American politics to arrive at a moment in which the debate revolves around the fundamental nature of American democracy and the social contract. But that is where we are,” Ryan wrote in Tuesday’s Wall Street Journal. “And no two documents illustrate this choice of two futures better than the president’s budget and the one put forward by House Republicans.”
Of course, that rare moment Ryan describes also happened in 2011.
As the introduction to Ryan’s first budget puts it, “[r]arely before have the alternatives facing America been so starkly defined.”
Indeed. Here’s to a historical 2013, too — and perhaps, as Thomas Jefferson put it, “a wise and frugal government.”
— David Grant / @DW_Grant
PHOTO: In this photo provided by CBS News, House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wis., speaks during CBS’s “Face the Nation” Sunday, March 25, 2012, in Washington. The debt-slashing GOP budget plan, authored by Ryan and endorsed by Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney last week, is heating up as a presidential campaign issue. It would slice $5.3 billion from President Barack Obama’s budget over the coming decade through tax reforms and sweeping program cuts. (AP Photo/CBS News, Chris Usher)
Paul Ryan’s 2012 budget is set to be unveiled Tuesday morning. And as you would expect, the House Budget Committee Chairman and rising GOP star went and did what most members of Congress do before laying out their plans for the nation’s fiscal future.
He cut a trailer.
Wait, what the heck? A trailer?! For a budget?
Paul Ryan: The Movie has more of a Woody Allen flavor than, say, Michael Bay (note the unfortunate absence of explosions). But it does raise an interesting way of thinking about the budget as amoral document.
Why should you care about Paul Ryan’s budget?
Answer: The budget is a major touchstone for Republicans and may be the cornerstone of a vision for the GOP presidential candidate come November.
Let’s back up to last year, for a moment.
In 2011, the first after an electoral landslide put Republicans back into power in the House, Paul Ryan burst onto the scene with a massive budget document that would have fundamentally altered Medicare, cut taxes, and slashed the federal debt by $4.4 trillion over 10 years.
Republicans hailed the plan as a realistic way to solve the nation’s debt problems. Moreover, it was a useful weapon with which to hammer Democrats over their inability to pass their own budget proposal.
Democrats, for their part, took one look at Ryan’s Medicare proposals and tried to make “Ryan budget” synonymous with “end your Medicare” for seniors.
The point of that budget was to lay out a plan.
This year, nearly everybody knows the outline of the plan.As such, it’s much more important to lay out a vision.
In a campaign season, the budget is going to strain to get GOP votes in the House, much less having even a moment’s consideration in a Senate chamber controlled by Democrats. Just look at last year’s trailer - it’s all about Paul Ryan the professor, not Paul Ryan the visionary.
With that in mind, Ryan has recast the budget in terms of a moral calling.
“I was here, in Congress, in 2008, when we had the economic crisis… That crisis caught us by surprise,” Ryan says, a chorus of violins rising ominously in the background. “What if your president, your senator, your congressman knew it was coming.
What if they knew when it was going to happen, why it was going to happen and more importantly what if they knew what they needed to do to stop it from happening — and they had the time to stop it. But they chose to do nothing about it because it wasn’t good politics? What would you think of that person?
It would be immoral.”
Arguing about the morality of leaving debt for America’s children isn’t exactly novel campaign fare - if America had a nickel for every time a member of Congress raised “our children and grandchildren” as a reason to do something, we’d have paid off the national debt a long time ago.
But taken in the context of what Paul Ryan believes the country needs in November, its an interesting point. Ryan has argued over and over again that the US needs an “affirming” election, where the two candidates stake our clear positions such that the American public can offer a clear mandate to fix the nation’s fiscal problems.
Winning by default, he says, is not an option.
That’s where the budget comes in. It’s a bright (moral) line that the GOP could use to highlight how it thinks America should solve its long-term financial challenges.
Will Democrats do the same? Will Republicans pick it up? We’ll be watching.
— David Grant / @DW_Grant
Yesterday’s House Budget Committee’s grilling of Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner was perhaps one of the most loopy, confrontational and outright funny battles between House Republicans and administration officials .
As you can see in the video above, Geithner wore a smirk - impish or insolent, depending on your point of view - at many moments during the hearing. You can watch the entire thing on CSPAN’s archive here. But in case you don’t have three hours to burn this long holiday weekend, here are a few of the key exchanges.
Whatever you think about Geithner’s appearance, perhaps we can all agree with Wall Street Journal scribe Damian Paletta:
Geithner has testified before Congress many times, but today in the House - as far as political theater - is one of the best. on cspan3— Damian Paletta (@damianpaletta) February 16, 2012
— David Grant / @DW_Grant
The most important line from a Washington Post piece on the Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.) and Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) joint proposal to combine a bit of the budge plan Democrats love to hate - the Ryan Budget - with traditional Medicare.
The paragraph continues:
With Congress at an impasse over more immediate deadline matters, such as the extension of a temporary payroll tax cut, Ryan said he does not expect action on major issues such as Medicare until a new Congress is seated in 2013.
Here’s the fact sheet on what will be an intellectual adventure until 2013. If you’re curious, here are the first few key bullet points:
Income for the top 1% has exploded: After-tax income for the 1% grew by 275%, compared to just 18% growth for the poorest Americans
So Tumblr friends, we saw this report from the CBO this morning, too. We also saw some pre-released remarks from Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan (R), who will be giving a speech to the conservative Heritage Institute today:
“Instead of appealing to the hope and optimism that were hallmarks of [Obama’s] first campaign, he has launched his second campaign by preying on the emotions of fear, envy, and resentment. This has the potential to be just as damaging as his misguided policies. Sowing social unrest and class resentment makes America weaker, not stronger. Pitting one group against another only distracts us from the true sources of inequity in this country—corporate welfare that enriches the powerful, and empty promises that betray the powerless.
Because President Obama has spoken at length about raising taxes on upper income Americans (the Buffett Rule, the proposals in his deficit reduction plan), it’s not too much of a stretch to say the politics of “fear, envy and resentment” is really about how the president has approached rich Americans.
So: What is the chart above? Is it showing unfairness? Or is it being used to gin up “fear, envy and resentment”?