Total Pageviews

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Ryan Cites Policy Kinship With Bill Clinton


ADEL, Iowa - From tying President Obama to the economic stagnation under one former president, Jimmy Carter, the Romney-Ryan campaign has moved on to offering rosy recollections of another Democrat in the White House, Bill Clinton. In both cases the aim is to paint an unflattering contrast with Mr. Obama.

Anticipating Mr. Clinton's speech Wednesday night at the Democratic National Convention, Representative Paul D. Ryan predicted at a rally here that “we'll get a great rendition of how good things were in the 1990s, but we're not going to hear much about how things have been the last four years.''

Mr. Ryan, who has been the tip of the Republican ticket's spear as Mitt Romney quietly preps for next month's presidential debates, praised Mr. Clinton for working with Republicans to pass welfare reform and budgets that cut spending. Mr. Obama, he said, tried to undo work requirements for welfare and has offered budgets with “a gusher of new spending.''

The president has shown “only demagoguery for those who've offered solutions,'' he said, speaking to a modest crowd before a picturesque county courthouse about 25 miles west of Des Moines.

In response, the Obama campaign characterized Mr. Ryan's description of the administration's offer to adjust the welfare law as a distortion. “Even he should know that President Clinton has joined with every independent fact checker, news organization and a Republican architect of welfare reform in calling the welfare attack blatantly false,” said Danny Kanner, a campaign spokesman.

Starting with the 2012 nominating race, Republicans have sought a measure of credit for the prosperit y of the Clinton era, the last time federal budgets ran a surplus. Democrats, too, paint those years as a golden era but for a different reason â€" to draw a contrast with George W. Bush‘s ledger of large deficits because of tax cuts and two unfunded wars.

With federal debt reaching a symbolic milestone of $16 trillion on Tuesday, both parties are engaged in a furious debate over whose economic policies can reverse the trend of growing deficits. Mr. Ryan, the intellectual author of the Republican commitment to stem explosive federal health care spending by transforming Medicare, also sought to link Mr. Clinton to the plan and portray it as enjoying bipartisan support.

“The Medicare reform that Mitt Romney and I are proposing,'' Mr. Ryan said, “it's an idea that came out of the Clinton commission to save Medicare.''

That picture is incomplete. Ten members on a 17-person commission in 1999 recommended that the government give subsidies to seniors to buy insurance â€" Mr. Ryan's plan â€" but the idea was rejected by the four Democrats appointed by Mr. Clinton, who also denounced the draft report, and the commission disbanded.

Mr. Ryan spoke on his second day in Iowa, a battleground state with only a handful of electoral votes, but a state where the Obama campaign has been waging an especially fierce stand. Mr. Obama and Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. along with their wives plan to campaign in Iowa City on Friday, the morning after Mr. Obama's acceptance speech and when new jobs numbers are due to come out.

Mr. Ryan suggested that he also might come back to Iowa, not only this year but in the future. Like waves of caucus candidates seeking a visceral connection with Iowans, he noted that he was from “corn and soybean country” in Wisconsin.

“You drive five miles that way,'' he said in this rural county seat, “it looks like five miles from my house.''