Today the House Committee on the Budget held a hearing at which Peter Orszag, Director of OMB, testified. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin is the ranking Republican on the committee. His opening comments on the budget were, I thought, worth reproducing:
RYAN: Thank you, Chairman, and thank you for this hearing. I look forward to having a number of these hearings on this budget. What a week we just had last week. Let’s go through it for a second. On Monday, we had the Fiscal Responsibility Summit. On Tuesday, we witnessed a very eloquent, ambitious and even inspiring speech by the president of the United States echoing those themes of fiscal responsibility. Then on Wednesday, Congress passed a bloated $410 billion spending bill with 9,000 earmarks. And on Thursday, we received the mother of all budgets, a truly sweeping transformation of the federal government, the likes of which we have not seen since the New Deal.
Finally, on Saturday, the president threw down the gauntlet. Rather than echoing the theme of changing the tone in Washington or bringing people together to forge a bipartisan compromise, he essentially said, “You’re either with me or you’re against me.” He claimed opponents of this transformative budget are quote, “Tools of special interest and the powerful.”
This is not changing the tone of Washington or forging a compromise. This is staking out an ideological conquest. It’s playing the oldest political trick in the book, which is if someone disagrees with you impugn their motives. Don’t debate the facts. Destroy their credibility and win the argument by default.
This power play strikes me as an incredible gamble with the U.S. economy and with those principles that built this country. Now the facts surrounding this budget are disturbing. It proposes to bring the size of our government to its largest level ever since World War II. It doubles the national debt in eight years. During a recession, it seeks to impose a $1.4 trillion tax in our economy on work, on savings, investment, energy, on manufacturing.
Even with the rosiest of economics assumptions, this budget never even comes close to achieving a balanced budget. During the time we have insolvency that goes permanently for Medicare and Social Security.
But what’s most distressing about this budget is that it takes a decidedly ideological turn away from the principles that built this country and built this economy for the type of governing system we see in Europe that provides a kind of economic and social stagnation we have not seen here in America.
And I was asked this past weekend: What can Republicans do about this? Candidly, Republicans, we don’t have the votes to really do anything about this. So I guess the question will become this year: Will all Democrats march in lock step with this vision, with this type of transformation?
Our goal, our role, our job, in the minority, is to give the American people the facts, is give the American people the truth, is to give the American people a good vigorous and civilized debate over this budget and to offer them a real choice and alternative, how we would do things differently and that is exactly what we intend to do while we have this vigorous debate and while we ask the tough questions.
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