The only thing wider than our budget gap is the distance between tonight's speakers and their plans to fix it.
When Rep. Paul Ryan unveiled his Roadmap for America's Future last year, the Republican Party mostly ignored his plan. It wasn't hard to see why. In a town that shrinks from radical change, the conservative wonk called for nothing less than a full body surgery for the budget.
Tonight, Ryan speaks for Republicans when he delivers the official response to the State of the Union. If the GOP is embracing the man, are they also embracing his vision?
The Republican Study Committee has already wrapped its arms around his proposal to cut trillions in spending this decade. But Ryan's plan went further. Much further. He didn't just reform corporate taxes. He eliminated them. He didn't just reform Social Security. He privatized it. He didn't call for freezing tax rates on the rich. He called for a million dollar tax cut for the wealthiest 200,000 families.
In short, Rep. Paul Ryan offers something more than a rebuttal to President Obama's speech tonight. He offers a completely different way of thinking about deficits, competitiveness, and social welfare.
To President Obama, the deficit gap has to be closed from two sides, with less spending and more taxes. But he has yet to lay out a comprehensive plan to reduce our long term deficit. To be sure, there has been a piecemeal strategy. The White House fought for deficit-neutral health care reform, higher taxes on the rich, and a salary freeze for the government. But Democrats have not brought anything as comprehensive as Ryan's roadmap to the table.