By all accounts Congressman Paul Ryan, (R-Wis.), is seen as a rising star in the national Republican Party. As such, he has been given the unique and special opportunity and honor of responding to President Obama’s State of the Union Address.
Last year, newly elected Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell gave the rebuttal to the State of the Union. It was his first real appearance before a national audience and many believe he did a fine job of representing the Republican position on the State of the Union. He gave his speech from the House Chamber of Virginia’s Capitol. He had only been in office 11 days.
While Governor McDonnell is a leader within the Republican Party he is not one who is called upon on a daily basis to engage with Democrats in the House, Senate or even the White House. That is why Ryan’s appearance is so newsworthy. He does deal with the House, Senate and White House on a daily basis and has the power to affect real change as a powerful committee chairman.
Such opportunities can either skyrocket a politician to stardom or doom him to obscurity and ridicule. People will be watching his demeanor, delivery, his sincerity and his words with a very critical eye. Was he able to present a rebuttal that was effective and convincing? We shall see.
First of all who is Paul Ryan? He is 41 years old and is a fifth generation Wisconsin native, who earned a degree in economics and political science from Miami University.
He is chairman of the House Budget Committee and is also a senior member of the House Ways and Means Committee.
He has been a leader in the Republican ranks on fiscal responsibility, the budget and deficit reduction.
Last year, for the GOP he was the architect of “A Roadmap for America’s Future” which aims to offer solutions for tackling the looming fiscal crisis driven by the explosion of entitlement spending. His “roadmap” sets forth solutions to the burden of mounting debt while spurring on job creation and economic growth.
His peers see him as the “go to guy” on the economy. Perhaps that is the main reason he was selected to speak after the president. Ryan is part of the group that have been dubbed the “young guns” of the Republican Party because it has scolded members of his own Party for not living up to their promises to spend less.
What does Ryan need to do in his response? This is what Ryan said he would like to accomplish:
“I am hopeful that the president will work with the new House majority to cut spending, reform government, and restore the foundations for growth and job creation.” He went on to say: “More than rhetoric, we need results. I look forward to outlining a vision for a future that fulfills the uniquely American legacy of leaving the next generation with a stronger more powerful nation.”
I believe there are several things Congressman Ryan must do to be remembered and be seen as credible and convincing:
1. He must not cast blame for our problems he must tell the American People that we can and will overcome our economic problems by solutions and sacrifice. And we will do it together;
2. He must lay out the problems of spending too much, taking in too less, and a government that is too big for our own good. He must tell the American people that we must return to fiscal responsibility now. We have no choice but to make tough choices. The government is not the answer to what ails us, it is the problem;
3. After laying out the problems we face, he must set forth the solutions. What will be the Republican plan for a road map to recovery? How will we be able to reduce government, cut spending, create jobs and be responsible again? He must also explain why it is Republicans seek the repeal of Obamacare and what would take its place.
4. Ryan must pledge to work with Democrats and the president in accomplishing the tough tasks at hand. But on the other hand, he must be clear that “business as usual” will not stand. Washington must listen to the American people. Ruling out of ideology instead of reality will not happen. Divided government demands a vigorous and healthy debate. All of which can be accomplished in a civil and responsible way.
Republicans are wise to put their trust in a young, dynamic and smart leader to represent their position following President Obama's State of the Union Address. America is looking for leadership and younger representatives with the vision, energy and determination to achieve results and solve tough problems.
All eyes will be on Congressman Paul Ryan.
Bradley A. Blakeman served as deputy assistant to President George W. Bush from 2001-04. He is currently a professor of Politics and Public Policy at Georgetown University and a frequent contributor to Fox News Opinion.
Former deputy assistant to President George W. Bush