n Tuesday, President Obama tore into the budget proposed by Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), passed by the House on a party-line vote, and endorsed by Republican presidential frontrunner Mitt Romney. Casting Ryan's budget as a "Trojan horse," Obama warned that the plan would gut domestic spending, slash the social safety net, voucherize Medicare, and slice tax breaks for the middle class, largely so the wealthy can enjoy even lower taxes. This "thinly veiled social Darwinism" represents the increasingly "radical vision" of today's GOP, Obama said, chiding Romney by name for lauding Ryan's plan as "marvelous." Is this a winning strategy for the president?
This is campaign gold: You can bet Obama will keep "lashing Romney to Ryan's budget," says Ezra Klein at The Washington Post. "That's because Ryan is doing what Romney will not: Saying what, specifically, Republicans intend to do if they take power." Romney is too savvy a politician to outline detailed cuts of his own — his "studied vagueness" is intended to allow voters to "project their own preferences onto him." But now that Romney has "fulsomely endorsed" Ryan's unpopular budget-slashing, Obama can and will tie Romney "to the conservative wing of the Republican Party."
"Introducing Obama's opponent in 2012: Paul Ryan"
Still, Obama is playing on Republican turf: It's easy to see why Obama wants to paint Romney as a "dangerous radical," says Molly Ball at The Atlantic. But it's also a stretch. Romney's record "suggests that, like Obama, his inclinations are more centrist than not." In fact, despite Obama's "savage, irritated excoriation" of Ryan's budget, the most remarkable part of his Tuesday speech was his embrace of deficit reduction and "the core tenets of GOP philosophy." Obama didn't reject the GOP's goals outright — he merely suggested that they need to be "tempered."
"Can Obama convince America Romney is a radical right-winger?"
This was just the opening shot in a welcome conversation: "The debate over the budget is a debate over our future as a nation and a people," says Jay Bookman in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Obama laid out a "direct, detailed, and sustained dissection of the Ryan budget," and explained his own vision. The GOP should respond in kind. Only if we discuss our shared future "factually and honestly, in as much detail as the American people can stand," will voters truly understand the big choice we face in November.
"Obama issues challenge to GOP over budget"
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
Subscribe to the Week