"A full stomach — and an empty soul."
That scathing synopsis of the Democrats' pitch will be the crux of Paul Ryan's message to the Conservative Political Action Conference on Thursday, when the Wisconsin Republican addresses activists.
Ryan's critique, even if delivered in his usual aw-shucks style, will probably stir talk of a possible presidential bid. Politicians looking only to chair the Ways and Means Committee rarely toss out such red meat.
In the speech, which the Post obtained late Wednesday, Ryan also urges Republican to craft a conservative reform agenda, and talks up the legacy of his mentor, Jack Kemp, the late New York congressman who led the GOP's anti-poverty efforts during the 1980s and 1990s.
He goes on to praise other Republicans, such as Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) and Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), and Rep. Eric Cantor (R-Va.), for their legislative endeavors, and plays down the idea of a GOP civil war, arguing the party is having a "battle of ideas," albeit one that is occasionally "messy."
Here's a snippet:
The way I see it, let the other side be the party of personalities. We'll be the party of ideas.
And I'm optimistic about our chances—because the Left? The Left isn't just out of ideas. It's out of touch. Take Obamacare. We now know that this law will discourage millions of people from working. And the Left thinks this is a good thing. They say, "Hey, this is a new freedom—the freedom not to work."
But I don't think the problem is too many people are working—I think the problem is not enough people can find work. And if people leave the workforce, our economy will shrink—there will be less opportunity, not more. So the Left is making a big mistake here. What they're offering people is a full stomach—and an empty soul. The American people want more than that.
Earlier this week, Ryan published a 204-page report on the federal government's welfare system, recommending reforms to Medicaid, Head Start, and dozens of other social programs.
"This document is a precursor not only of our budget but of our larger project to introduce poverty reforms over the course of this year," Ryan said in an interview. "The president may focus on inequality because he can't talk about growth. We're focused on upward mobility, speaking directly to people who have fallen through the cracks."
The Iowa GOP announced Wednesday that Ryan will appear in the Hawkeye State next month, headlining a Lincoln Day dinner.