Update 1:58 p.m.: Rep. Ryan has responded with a fiery statement of his own. Via Politico: "Like his reckless budgets," Ryan writes, "today’s speech by President Obama is as revealing as it is disappointing: While others lead by offering real solutions, he has chosen to distort the truth and divide Americans in order to distract from his failed record."
Original: So far, President Obama has been known to address his Republican rivals mostly by implication. Not so at Tuesday's Associated Press luncheon, where he spoke directly about Rep. Paul Ryan and his likely rival Mitt Romney. We expect Obama's notably harsh critiques of Ryan's budget plan to whip the political punditry into a tizzy of analysis, rebuttal, and praise for the foreseeable future. Some highlights from previews of the speech released to the press:
It’s a Trojan Horse. Disguised as deficit reduction plan, it’s really an attempt to impose a radical vision on our country. It’s nothing but thinly-veiled Social Darwinism.
Yowza. Also, one for the Reaganites:
In this country, broad-based prosperity has never trickled down from the success of a wealthy few. It has always come from the success of a strong and growing middle class.
(Update: Obama added during the Q&A, that Ronald Reagan "couldn't get through a Republican primary today," presumably because he's too moderate. We anxiously await the Wall Street Journal editorial board's response.)
Obama talked at length about details of the Ryan budget, (the truly curious can watch it here,) contrasting it with his own policies, and tying Romney to it. (Romney has said he supports it.) As we noted when the Ryan budget passed the House, you aren't likely to see this thing become law, but you sure are likely to hear about it from Democrats this campaign season, and indeed, here it is! Also, Republicans may not like to talk about George W. Bush very much, but Obama certainly plans to. As the New York Times notes on today's speech, "the president said Americans could not afford to elect a Republican president at a time of fragile economic recovery, with a weak job market and a crushing national debt from 'two wars, two massive tax cuts and an unprecedented financial crisis.'" Big stands from presidents often sharpen the partisan dividing lines and raise the stakes, so Obama's provision of quotables on the Ryan budget will almost certainly attract much of the political commentary this week. November 2012, here we come.
Update: Another notable quote from the Q&A: When asked about the Supreme Court case against health care, Obama said, "The burden is on those who would overturn a law like this," following up on his public advice for the Supreme Court given yesterday. His argument echoes Jeffrey Toobin's in The New Yorker this week. Maybe he's read it. Or, you know, maybe he just has his own opinions on Constitutional law.