President Barack Obama's State of the Union address and Rep. Paul Ryan's Republican response on Tuesday night offer competing visions of the country.
For Mr. Obama, it is business as usual. Sunny days are ahead if only government continues its spending binge. A year ago the euphemism was "stimulus." Now it is "investment." Most of his hour-long speech was a paean to liberal activism, as the president called for redoubling outlays on high-speed rail and "countless" green energy jobs. His single concrete proposal about cutting spending was a five-year freeze on nondefense discretionary outlays. This follows last year's call for a three-year freeze that was never enacted.
The president's proposal would save $400 billion over 10 years. But that is on a federal budget that's increased 25% in two years, raising government's share of GDP to 25% from roughly 20%.
Freezing government at the current record levels is insufficient. And to their credit, Republicans have proposed cutting $100 billion from this year's budget. This would save $1.5 trillion over the next 10 years. The GOP already made a $42 billion down payment on their $100 billion in cuts from the president's budget by deep-sixing the Democratic omnibus bill during the lame-duck session.
Karl Rove is the 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 President Obama and Rep. Paul Ryan in The Wall Street Journal, click here.