Obama said the House Republican budget plan, which has been endorsed by Romney and would slash entitlements and agency spending, is “so far to the right” on the political spectrum that it makes the Republicans’ 1994 Contract With America “look like the New Deal.”
“This isn’t a budget supported by some small rump group in the Republican Party,” Obama said. “This is now the party’s governing platform. This is what they’re running on.”
Mocking Romney for calling the House budget “marvelous,” the president added that the plan, which aims to trim $5.3 trillion from federal spending over the next decade, would create a form of “social Darwinism” pitting the poor against the wealthy.
“It’s a Trojan horse,” he declared in an address to news editors in Washington. “Disguised as a deficit-reduction plan, it’s really an attempt to impose a radical vision on our country. . . . It’s a prescription for decline.”
The speech was the third and by far the most aggressively partisan that Obama has given since late last year on what he describes as the country’s drift from its principles — most particularly a sense of economic fairness — that he contends has damaged the middle class. He did not attack Republicans on Tuesday simply on their policies but also on their idea of what it means to be an American, calling their vision “antithetical to our entire history.”
The president’s blunt demeanor opened a new front in the 2012 campaign in a week when Romney moved closer to securing the Republican nomination. Obama’s tone marked a sharp departure from his more nuanced approach of last summer, when he distinguished between the moderate and conservative wings of the GOP while trying to win bipartisan agreement on a “grand bargain” to reduce the budget deficit.
By veering from his 2008 campaign pledge to instill a spirit of bipartisanship in Washington, Obama is gambling that he can convince voters, especially the decisive bloc of independents, that his opponents are the ones to blame.
His attack also marked the second time in two days that the president attempted to paint conservative leaders in Washington as out of step with the majority of the public. On Monday, he warned the conservative wing of the Supreme Court to refrain from judicial activism in determining the fate of his health-care law.
Paul Ryan hits back
The author of the House budget, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), quickly blasted Obama for choosing to “duck and run” instead of dealing with the burgeoning national debt, which Republicans have cited as a drag on economic growth and consumer confidence.