In the White House Press Room on Tuesday, President Barack Obama did what comes naturally—scold others, in this case the Congress. Mr. Obama complained that a budget agreement "could have gotten done three months ago."
What he didn't say was that the budget should have "gotten done" six months ago, before the current fiscal year started last Oct. 1. Our government's failure to have a budget in place halfway through the fiscal year is the president's responsibility. He and his party dominated Congress by wide margins when the budget was supposed to be put in place.
Also on Tuesday, at the other end of Pennsylvania Avenue, House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan did what the president has not. Demonstrating leadership and more than a little courage, Mr. Ryan laid out a thoughtful, ambitious blueprint for the next decade.
The Path to Prosperity would return discretionary spending to its 2008 levels and hold it flat for five years; reduce the federal government's work force by 10%; slash corporate welfare; reform the tax code; and reduce the corporate and top personal rate to 25%. It would repeal ObamaCare, change Medicare so the government helps all seniors pay for an insurance policy they choose, and send states money for each person covered by Medicaid, plus the flexibility to spend that money as they see fit.
The Obama-Ryan budget battle foreshadows what Americans are likely to hear in the 2012 campaign: an unengaged, reactive chief executive versus a bold, reform-minded GOP.
In the short term, it's obvious what Mr. Obama hopes to gain. Having watched his standing as "a strong and decisive leader" drop to 52% in last month's Gallup poll from 60% last year, the president is looking to profit politically from a shutdown of the federal government.
Karl Rove is a former senior adviser and deputy chief of staff to President George W. Bush. He is a Fox News contributor and author of "Courage and Consequence" (Threshold Editions, 2010). To continue reading his column about Obama, the GOP and the government shutdown, click here.