When word came yesterday that President Obama was going to be critiquing Rep. Paul Ryan’s budget, Ryan’s spokesman sent out a pre-emptive statement, hitting the president’s lack of credibility on the budget. Conor Sweeney emailed: “For four years the President has refused to honestly confront the most predictable economic crisis in our history. Instead, he has accelerated the nation toward this looming debt-fueled crisis with reckless budgets, always accompanied by partisan speeches that seek to divide the nation in order to distract from his legacy of broken promises. If he thinks there is no political price to pay for this total abdication of leadership, he is due for a rude awakening.”

He slammed the president’s repetitive hypocrisy:

The President’s failures are as disappointing as they are predictable. For the second-straight year, the President’s approach to budgeting is as follows: 1) Put forward an unserious budget with serious consequences for seniors, families, and future generations; 2) Wait for House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan to advance principled solutions that tackle our generation’s defining challenge; 3) Launch false, tired political attacks on Chairman Ryan for doing what the President should be doing. The President continues to confuse partisan speeches for principled leadership.

If nothing else, President Obama and Chairman Ryan, with their two approaches to budgeting, have helped clarify the choice for the American people: the President’s path to debt and decline versus the restoration of the promise and prosperity of our exceptional nation.

Well, Mitt Romney might as well put Ryan on the ticket; the Wisconsin congressman is already taking on the president directly — and effectively.

Ryan has touched on the central problem with Obama’s reelection message: He hasn’t done anything to deserve four more years. The public doesn’t like the “historic” (only?) achievement, Obamacare. And Obama refused to follow his own Bowles-Simpson debt commission or advance any other serious debt reduction plan.

Obama’s argument that he helped facilitate the “recovery” is equally vulnerable to attack. Economist Edward Lazear makes the case the Obama recovery is weak by historical standards: “During the postwar period up to the current recession (1947-2007), the average annual growth rate for the U.S. was 3.4%. The last three decades have experienced somewhat slower growth than the earlier periods, but even in the period 1977-2007, the average growth rate was 3%. According to the National Bureau of Economic Research, the recovery began in the second half of 2009. Since that time, the economy has grown at 2.4%, below our long-term trend by either measure. At this point, the economy is 12% smaller than it would have been had we stayed on trend growth since 2007.” It is entirely fair to attribute this, not to the nature of the recession (other downturns have been prompted by financial institutional failure, he reminds us), but to the president’s agenda:

It would be difficult to argue that government polices over the past three years have enhanced confidence in the U.S. business environment. Threats of higher taxes, the constantly increasing regulatory burden, the failure to pursue an aggressive trade policy that will open markets to U.S. exports, and the enormous increase in government spending all are growth impediments. Policies have focused on short-run changes and gimmicks—recall cash for clunkers and first-time home buyer credits—rather than on creating conditions that are favorable to investment that raise productivity and wages. . . .

But unless we move to a set of economic policies that are aimed at growing the economy rather than at promoting social agendas, this may be the first “recovery” in history that fails to see us return to long-term average growth.

So to recap: We can expect for the next seven months to hear the president trot out the same tired attacks on the Ryan budget, ignore his own failure to address our fiscal crisis and argue that the pathetic recovery is the fault of someone else. This is the argument for four more years?

In all this whining and complaining Obama reveals his own failure to lead (even when he had a majority in both houses of Congress). We’ve yet to hear a positive, workable agenda that might attract bipartisan support. How long Obama can run simply on attacking or blaming others remains to be seen.