By most accounts, President Obama’s meeting with the House GOP on the deficit today sounds as if it were a colossal waste of time. “We really didn’t hear anything new from the president,” Michele Bachmann told reporters after the meeting. According to Eric Cantor, Obama made the argument for more Washington spending, which isn’t exactly a surprise.
But the one positive part of the meeting was that it gave Rep. Paul Ryan a chance to confront Obama on the Democratic Party’s demagoguery of the House GOP budget plan.
“I said we’ve got to take on this debt and if we demagogue each other at the leadership level then we’re never going to take on our debt,” Ryan told reporters after the meeting. “I simply explained what our plan is—how it works. . . . It’s been mis-described by the president and many others. So we simply described to him what it is we’ve been proposing so that he hears from us how our proposal works.”
Ryan’s remarks to the president were very smart. Obama ran his 2008 campaign on the promise of moving beyond partisan “politics-as-usual,” and he hasn’t lived up to this vow. So not only did Ryan challenge the president on his misrepresentation of the House GOP budget plan, he also highlighted Obama’s failure to make good on his own campaign rhetoric.
Ryan’s willingness to confront the president so directly will also win him points with conservative voters, who want to see more of that aggressiveness from the GOP presidential candidates. The congressman is positioning himself well for a 2012 run, if he decides to enter the race.