(Photo: REUTERS/Jason Reed)
President Barack Obama accused the House Republicans of being dishonest in the passage of their budget plan last week. He argued that the budget is not really about deficit reduction, as Republicans argue, but an attempt to "impose a radical vision" that is "antithetical to our entire history."
The House Republican budget, also known as "Path to Prosperity" or the "Ryan Budget" after Budget Chair Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), "is a Trojan horse," Obama said Tuesday in a speech at The Associated Press annual meeting.
"Disguised as deficit reduction plans, it is really an attempt to impose a radical vision on our country. It is thinly veiled social Darwinism. It is antithetical to our entire history as a land of opportunity and upward mobility for everybody who is willing to work for it."
Obama contrasted the Ryan budget with his own budget and the Bowles-Simpson Commission's proposals. The Bowles-Simpson Commission, formed by President Obama, released its report in December 2010. Obama did not embrace the report at the time, but praised its work in Tuesday's speech.
"Bowles-Simpson was a serious, honest, balanced effort between Democrats and Republicans to bring down the deficit. That's why, though it differs in some ways, my budget takes a similarly balanced approach – cuts in discretionary spending, cuts in mandatory spending, increased revenue," Obama said. "This congressional Republican budget is something different altogether."
The Ryan budget actually shares some things in common with the Bowles-Simpson report. It proposes to reform the tax code by reducing rates and eliminating deductions and credits. It proposes, though, doing so in a way that is revenue neutral – the amount raised from eliminating deductions must match the amount lost from reducing rates.
The Ryan budget does not specify how low the rates should go or which deductions should be eliminated. Instead, it proposes that Congress, first through the Ways and Means Committee, decide these details. Obama mocked Republicans for this in his speech.
"The Republicans in Congress refuse to name a single tax loophole they are willing to close, not one," Obama said.
Obama has also said he supports tax reform, but believes the reforms should also increase revenue. In the speech, though, he also criticized Republicans for a budget that would likely eliminate or reduce some deductions that benefit many middle-income taxpayers, such as the home mortgage interest deduction.
Obama called the Republican budget "laughable."
Republicans believe "this is an existential crisis, we need to think about future generations. And that argument might have a shred of credibility were it not for their proposal to also spend $4.6 trillion dollars over the next decade on lower tax rates," Obama said as he giggled.
While Obama and Ryan have both suggested that their competing plans offer radically different visions for the future, they both agree on one thing – the next election will be a referendum on those competing visions.
"I'm excited about going to the country with a choice of two futures," Ryan said Sunday on ABC's "This Week."
Obama echoed that theme in Tuesday's speech.
"I believe this is a make or break moment for the middle class and I can't remember a time when the choice between competing visions of our future has been so unambiguously clear," Obama said.