by Ryan Streeter on March 20, 2012. Follow Ryan on Twitter.
UPDATE: In the comments below, I link to this post at Political Math from April 4, which pretty much lays to rest the “Bush piled up more debt than Obama” line that I’ve heard quite a bit on the left and which a reader posts in the comments. The Q&A in the post is also helpful. Bottom line: Obama’s $1.39 trillion per year in debt is unprecedented by a long shot over the past generation.
He’s back (thank God). The GOP presidential race’s theatrics have given candidates a pass on talking about the deficit. So, thankfully, it’s that time of year when Paul Ryan gets to introduce his budget to make people honest again. It’s easier on the campaign trail to talk about gas prices and whether unemployment matters, and since Mitch Daniels isn’t in the race, we have Ryan to fall back on in his role as Budget Committee chairman.
Ryan forced the candidates early on last year to start saying what they thought, say, about reforming Medicare. Now that Ryan is unveiling the Path to Prosperity 2.0, hopefully we’ll get into a bit more debt and deficit debate in the context of the campaign. Some think that’s a bad idea. I have always disagreed.
Nothing, actually, helps cast a more unfavorable light on Obama than the debate about the nation’s fiscal condition. Obama’s cynicism about the deficit gets harder and harder to mask. He looks even more cynical this year than last. He’s piled up more debt in 3 years than Bush did in 8. The list goes on, and when the Washington Post covers his negotiating tactics last year, the President looks even worse. Dems lick their chops at times like this because they think the GOP budget will give them a bat to hit Republicans over the head with. But the public has grown a bit more sophisticated in recent years and is capable of drawing a connection between “don’t cut anything!” and “well, once again the CBO says the deficit’s a lot worse than Obama’s budget projected.”
If you haven’t seen it, here’s Ryan’s new video. He’s making his way into living rooms and onto desktops and iPads. Nobody’s trying harder to turn the dry art of budgeting into a moral campaign than Ryan, so even though this one lacks the original use of cool graphs and trend lines like last year (last year’s is actually playing on the iPads, etc., in this video), it’s worth watching.
P.S. – For readers interested in how the Ryan budget stacks up against Obama’s budget, Keith Hennessey has a helpful post this morning here.