- The Washington Times - Monday, August 13, 2012

President Obama and Mitt Romney’s vice-presidential pick, Paul Ryan, have never seen eye to eye when it comes to policy, and now that the congressman from Wisconsin is on the GOP ticket, Mr. Obama is wasting no time in going after the Republicans’ popular budget man.

Mr. Obama started off a three-day swing through Iowa by road-testing his attacks on Mr. Ryan, a familiar foe and ideological opposite with whom he has tangled repeatedly over the years.

During a stop in Council Bluffs on Monday, Mr. Obama accused Mr. Ryan of opposing a major farm bill working its way through Congress and added a line to his stump speech focused on casting Mr. Ryan as the ideological leader of his party.

With farmers feeling the economic pinch of a severe drought, Mr. Obama highlighted Mr. Ryan’s recent vote to block the farm bill from advancing.

“I’m told Gov. Romney’s new running mate might be around Iowa these next few days, and he’s one of those leaders of Congress standing in the way,” Mr. Obama said.

Republican vice-presidential pick Paul Ryan had to shout over some hecklers Monday ... more >

Both Mr. Obama and Mr. Ryan were stumping in the Hawkeye State, where the farm bill — which contains a raft of agricultural subsidy programs as well as trade, food-safety and food-stamp provisions — has a major impact on the state’s economy.

Critics of the bill, including Mr. Ryan, say the massive agricultural measure does not do enough to overhaul a wasteful system of taxpayer payouts to favored growers at a time of record federal deficits.

Reacting to the president’s criticism, the Romney campaign noted that Mr. Ryan is from an agricultural state and supported disaster relief. The president’s words on this subject fit his campaign’s familiar pattern of one-sided storytelling, the campaign added.

“The truth is, no one will work harder to defend farmers and ranchers than the Romney-Ryan ticket,” said Romney campaign spokesman Ryan Williams. “After nearly four years of failure, it’s no wonder that Barack Obama returns to the state that launched his presidential campaign with nothing more than broken promises and false attacks.”

Republicans also have accused Senate Democrats of blocking a bipartisan House-passed bill aimed at helping livestock producers devastated by drought. The Democrat-controlled Senate refused to take up the bill before adjourning for the August recess.

Mr. Obama didn’t focus his attacks solely on Mr. Ryan’s farm bill vote. During the same speech, he called Mr. Ryan “the ideological leader of the Republican Party” and “an articulate spokesman for Romney’s vision.”

He said the Republican’s plan to partially privatize Medicare is a dangerous and destabilizing step for middle-class seniors.

“The problem is, that vision is one that I fundamentally disagree with,” Mr. Obama said. “They think if we end Medicare as we know it and make it a voucher system, this is going to lead to jobs and prosperity for everyone.”

Mr. Ryan pushed back, taking Mr. Obama to task for 3½ years of out-of-control deficit spending while speaking on the Des Moines Register’s soapbox at the Iowa State Fairgrounds.

“We need to stop spending money we don’t have,” he said. “President Obama has given us four years of trillion-dollar-plus deficits, and he is making matters worse, and he is spending our children into a diminished future. We don’t have to stand for that … and on Nov. 6, we’re going to change that.”

Story Continues →