House GOP budget is 'compassionate and optimistic,' says Ryan

Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) defended his party's 2012 budget as "compassionate" amid withering attacks by President Obama and congressional Democrats.

The House Budget Committee chairman sought to recast his "Path to Prosperity" ahead of a vote Friday in the House on the plan for the 2012 fiscal year.

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"Our budget offers a compassionate and optimistic contrast to a future of healthcare rationing and unbearably high taxes. We lift the crushing burden of debt, repair the safety net, make America’s tax system fair and competitive and ensure that our health and retirement programs have a strong and lasting future," Ryan wrote in an op-ed in The Washington Post.

Ryan sought to frame his budget much more favorably than the president and congressional Democrats have in recent days; critics charge it with harsh treatment of the poor and seniors, among others.

"These are the kinds of cuts that tell us we can’t afford the America that I believe in and I think you believe in," Obama said in a Wednesday speech on fiscal reform. "I believe it paints a vision of our future that is deeply pessimistic."

Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), meanwhile, said Thursday that the GOP budget would mean "throwing many seniors out of nursing homes," and Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (Fla.), the incoming chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee (DNC), suggested the changes to Medicare in Ryan's budget would put senior citizens' lives at risk.

Ryan sought to turn Democrats' argument back against them, arguing it was Obama and Democrats' budget proposals that would really leave seniors and other constituencies at risk.

"The president’s proposals are aimed more at empowering government than strengthening the free market," Ryan wrote. "He continues to prove he’s not up to the challenging work of reforming government to meet 21st-century needs. If he gets his way, the nation will endure huge tax hikes, seniors’ access to healthcare will be reduced — and we will experience an epic collapse of our health and retirement programs that would devastate our nation’s most vulnerable citizens."