Paul Ryan to deliver State of the Union response
Updated: 3:55 p.m.
Wisconsin Republican Rep. Paul Ryan will deliver the Republican response to President Obama's State of the Union address next week, congressional GOP leaders announced Friday.
Ryan, who turns 40 next week, is the chairman of the House Budget Committee and is considered a GOP rising star. He is slated to deliver the response from the House Budget Committee hearing room, a symbolic move that Republican leaders say underscores their party's commitment to fiscal responsibility in the new Congress.
In a statement, Ryan said that delivering the GOP response is a "unique opportunity" and pledged to "work with the new House Majority to cut spending, reform government, and restore the foundations for growth and job creation."
Congressional Republican leaders hailed Ryan as a voice of fiscal discipline.
"Paul Ryan is uniquely qualified to address the state of our economy and the fiscal challenges that face our country," House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) said in a statement. "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."
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said that Ryan's "unique understanding of the fiscal problems we face, his command of policy, and his adherence to the principles of our nation's founding make him an excellent spokesman for the path that Americans want Washington to take."
Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), the ranking member of the House Budget Committee, issued a statement congratulating Ryan but also taking a swipe at the recent steps House Republicans have taken on fiscal issues.
"I have great respect for Paul, and I think the Budget Committee will be a place for robust debate on how to create jobs and put our fiscal house in order," Van Hollen said. "Unfortunately, since the new GOP majority took over the House, they have done nothing to help put Americans back to work. ... While we look forward to hearing what Paul has to say, more importantly we look to see what the GOP will do to tackle the challenges facing our nation."
During the last Congress, Ryan issued a "Roadmap for America's Future" that proposed addressing the federal deficit through changes to tax policy, Social Security, job training and health care. Ryan's Social Security proposal, for instance, revived the longstanding Republican idea of letting workers under age 55 chose between the current federal payroll taxes for retirement or setting aside a "significant portion" of those funds in individual retirement accounts.
The plan also contained some far-reaching conservative thinking about how to redesign the health care system: reducing employers' role in health insurance by removing the tax advantages they get for covering their workers, giving Americans tax credits to buy insurance on their own, and restructuring Medicaid and Medicare. For Americans now under age 55, Medicare would give Americans, when they became old enough for the program, a fixed contribution towards health insurance, rather than covering all of a defined set of medical benefits.
Ryan's health care plans did not attract much support, even within the House's Republican caucus, and it remains unclear whether he will revise them, or gain more support for them, now that he has become chairman of the House Budget Committee.
Last year, newly-elected Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) gave the Republican response to Obama's State of the Union. In 2009, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal (R), another GOP rising star, was widely panned for his less-than-compelling delivery.
Felicia Sonmez and Amy Goldstein
| January 21, 2011; 11:45 AM ET
Categories: 44 The Obama Presidency
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