The Corner

Ryan: Obama’s Keynesian Doctrine

“Well, from tonight’s speech, it’s clear that the president reads a lot of mail,” says Rep. Paul Ryan (R., Wis.), the ranking member of the House Budget Committee, to National Review Online. “Knowing that, it’s a shame that he has ignored the letters we’ve sent him about our policy ideas, and continues to misread what the people want.” While calling President Obama’s rhetoric “insincere,” Ryan says the most worrisome part of the State of the Union address was how “the president thinks his problems are political, when they’re really about policy.”

“This president, unfortunately, is no student of economics,” says Ryan. “His dogged devotion to Keynesianism came through tonight in how he used its principles to complement his political ideology. Spend more money, he said, create more government jobs, and all will be fine. He actually believes that government spending is pro-growth, good for the economy, and the best way to create jobs. I don’t think it ever occurs to him that when we borrow and spend more money to create jobs that we’re also taking away from other sectors of the economy. Tonight, he returned again and again to the notion that the government must take money out of the economy — through borrowing and taxes — to create more government jobs. That’s become the Obama doctrine.”

Ryan says that the State of the Union also reveals much about how President Obama is responding to the changing American political landscape. “Instead of changing course, he inched his rhetoric a bit to the middle while doubling down on the substance of the policies he’s been pushing all year. He’s sticking with his health-care plan. He’s sticking with his fiscal approach. Both are huge liabilities now, and he knows it — but instead of adapting, he’s decided to just tinker with his rhetoric. On everything from the spending freeze to health care, he offered up as little policy as possible so he could justify a rhetorical surge in a different direction.”

As he walked out of the Capitol, Ryan added this: “Tonight’s speech was about addressing the Democrats’ political problems. They know the American people are fed up with the backroom deals, hyper-partisanship, and one-party rule. So, unsurprisingly, the president took on lobbyists and partisanship. He wants to be seen as both rising above it and not responsible for its consequences. That’s what all of the rhetoric was about: moving the president away from the problems he’s created. Beyond the soaring rhetoric, however, it should be clear: This administration is not budging when it comes to policy. It’s not ready to change tune.”

Tomorrow morning, Ryan says he’ll be sending the president some more mail, this time his new Roadmap for America’s Future. “Maybe they’ll finally get back to me,” he says. “It would be nice for someone to actually follow up over there.”

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