Barack Obama's major deficit reduction speech this afternoon was certainly better than expected.
He offered his strongest support for maintaining the social safety net as we know it rather than tearing it apart in the heat of a recession-induced budget gap. Meaning, he didn't buy into the framework of House Budget Committee chair Rep. Paul Ryan, whose plan to reduce spending by $6.2 trillion would only achieve that by eliminating Medicare and replacing it with a system of private subsidies that medical inflation would dilute to worthlessness, converting Medicaid into discretionary block grants for states, repealing both the health care and financial regulatory reform bills passed last year and more, all while slashing taxes on the rich and raising them on the poor. He pounced on Ryan's teenage Ayn Rand fantasy kit with Ryan himself sitting only a few yards away. Ryan wasn't pleased — some would even say "irked." This is prime entertainment for the Washington budget crowd! How will anyone fall asleep tonight?
Here's a crucial paragraph in the section of Obama's speech about Paul Ryan's "Path to Prosperity":
The fact is, their vision is less about reducing the deficit than it is about changing the basic social compact in America. As Ronald Reagan's own budget director said, there's nothing "serious" or "courageous" about this plan. There's nothing serious about a plan that claims to reduce the deficit by spending a trillion dollars on tax cuts for millionaires and billionaires. There's nothing courageous about asking for sacrifice from those who can least afford it and don't have any clout on Capitol Hill. And this is not a vision of the America I know.
And here's how the lamentable Mr. Ryan enjoyed the occasion:
All the while, Mr. Ryan sat in a front-row seat in the George Washington University auditorium Wednesday while Mr. Obama unveiled his plan to constrain growing levels of federal debt.
Mr. Ryan grew visibly annoyed during the speech, shaking his head in disgust. He feverishly took notes, and when Mr. Obama finished he stood up and bolted from the auditorium.
And then Ryan tripped and started crying and everyone laughed. "What a pathetic piece of shit," the President said from the podium, to applause and stomping. "What an interminable dick." Standing ovation.
[Image via AP]