Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wisc., will deliver his party's official response to President Obama's State of the Union Address next week, a senior GOP source confirms.
Ryan, one of his party's leading deficit hawks, has won praise from many -- including the president -- for his willingness to outline specific proposals for reducing the national debt.
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The chairman of the House Budget Committee, Ryan was a key player in negotiations leading up to the $700 billion bailout of the financial services industry. After initially threatening to block a plan backed by then-president George W. Bush and congressional Democratic leaders. After some of his proposals were included, he eventually supported the measure.
He's produced a much-discussed "Roadmap for America's Future," a package of long-term austerity measures aimed at eliminating the deficit over the next half century, includes sweeping and controversial proposals, such as privatizing Medicare. The specificity of the proposal helped convince pundits that Republicans had ideas to back up pledges of spending cuts and but it gave Democrats an excuse to accuse the GOP of wanting to cut entitlement benefits.
Ryan is close to the GOP House leadership. With Majority Whip Eric Cantor, R-Va., and Rep. Kevin McCarthy, R-Ca., he helped start the Republican "Young Guns" program to recruit "a new generation" of conservative candidates.