House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan called on Republican candidates Thursday to campaign this year “on a very specific, bold agenda,” saying the party cannot afford to win “by default” with “no mandate to actually fix the country’s problems.”
In an appearance on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” the Wisconsin Republican offered a preview of the keynote speech he plans to deliver to the annual Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) Thursday night in Washington, D.C.
“What I’m going to be saying this evening at CPAC is we need to run on very specific, bold agenda and have an affirming election,” Ryan said. “If we just run against Barack Obama on the economy and how much we don’t like him and his policies — that’s not enough.”
Ryan stressed that Republicans have what he called “a moral obligation” to offer concrete alternative proposals rather than just complain about the direction the country is taking under the president and Democrats in Congress.
Voters, he said, need “a clear, definitive choice” in this year’s elections more than ever, given the debt crisis and other problems the nation is confronting.
“And if we win that kind of election,” Ryan added, “then we have a mandate and the moral authority to fix these problems.”
Asked about Congress’ all-time low approval ratings and whether Republicans bear some responsibility, Ryan was quick to defend House GOP efforts to pass a budget and suggested that the president and Senate Democratic leaders were dragging their feet on important issues as part of an election-year strategy.
“They’re basically trying to make the Congress dysfunctional,” he said. “You have the Senate doing absolutely nothing. No budget for three years. No priorities, no restraints.
“But yes, it makes all of us look bad,” Ryan added. “So the president’s going to try and blame somebody else. It’s going to be a ‘it’s not my fault’ kind of an election strategy.”
Ryan said he plans to present a budget by mid-April to address the growing debt, which he described as essentially the biggest problem facing the nation. He said something has to be done and it has to be soon — election year or not.
“Quite frankly, it’s really a function of math. The decisions we make in the next few years will really determine the kind of country we’re going to be,” he said. “Are we going to be that kind of opportunity society with a safety net to help people get back on their feet, or are we going to be a European, debt crisis-laden, cradle-to-grave, social-welfare state?
“I really think that’s kinda the fork in the road we’re at right now, and [Republicans] owe it to the country to show them how we will change that trajectory.”
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