GOP taps Paul Ryan to give rebuttal to Obama's speech

McClatchy NewspapersJanuary 21, 2011 

WASHINGTON — House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, a rising Republican star who's stirred controversy with his approach to budget-cutting, will give the GOP response Tuesday to President Barack Obama's State of the Union address.

The choice is aimed at showcasing the commitment of Republicans, who earlier this month took control of the House of Representatives for the first time in four years, to deficit reduction.

Previous Republican responses to Obama's State of the Union addresses were given by governors, Bobby Jindal of Louisiana and Bob McDonnell of Virginia.

Ryan, 39, a seventh-term Wisconsin Republican, is known for his "Roadmap for America's Future," a plan for reducing federal budget deficits that includes permitting younger workers the option of setting aside Social Security tax payments for "personal retirement accounts."

In addition, Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., a favorite of the tea party movement, will deliver a separate reaction to Obama’s speech on behalf of the Tea Party Express, one of the movement’s largest groups. The broadcast, following Obama and Ryan, will be broadcast on live streaming video at or at

Lately, Ryan has become the center of partisan controversy for a different reason.

Republicans argue that since no formal budget is in place for the fiscal year that began Oct. 1, expedited procedures are needed to curb spending. They aim to cut $60 billion to $80 billion for the remainder of this fiscal year, which runs to Sept. 30.

Under the House Republicans' plan, Ryan would be able to set spending levels for this year's budget by publishing them in the Congressional Record; there'd be no vote. Chances are that plan won't get far, since the Democratic-controlled Senate must agree, and most Democrats oppose the proposal.

"Mr. Ryan ... is a very positive, effective, important member of this body;" said House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer, D-Md., "but I am not for giving any one person in this body the authority to unilaterally set the number at which we will fund America's government for the next seven months."

House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, on Friday explained the choice of Ryan to give the Republican address, which he announced together with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.

"Paul Ryan is uniquely qualified to address the state of our economy and the fiscal challenges that face our country," Boehner said. "We're broke, and decisive action is needed to help our economy get back to creating jobs and end the spending binge in Washington that threatens our children's future. I'm pleased that Paul will be outlining a common-sense vision for moving our country forward."


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