Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) ramped up his criticism of President Obama on Thursday, saying he is “going all in” on class warfare while “preying on emotions of fear, resentment and anger.”
In a wide-ranging interview that aired on Milwaukee-based radio station 620 WTMJ, the chairman of the House Budget Committee declined to criticize the Occupy Wall Street protesters, so long as “no property gets damaged.”
But Ryan lambasted Democrats for backing a movement of people that he says is looking for someone “to pay off their loans and debts.”
“We’re getting basically a strategy to divide people,” Ryan continued. “To speak to people as if they’re stuck in some class — they’re stuck in some station in their life and the government’s role is to help them cope with it. That is so inherently contrary to what we’re about in this country.”
Ryan said that the White House’s plan to pay for its jobs bill by raising taxes on millionaires and billionaires was an extension of the class warfare mindset, and that the proposal would ultimately hurt small businesses that earn more than $1 million dollars per year.
“Yeah, it sounds like we’re just taxing Brett Favre and Brad Pitt, you know the millionaires and billionaires, a movie star and a baseball player,” Ryan said. “But what we’re actually doing is great damage to the entrepreneurial engine of this economy and the small businesses of this economy, where a vast majority of the jobs come from, and because most of our businesses file their taxes that way, it’s a huge economic mistake.”
Moving on to deficit reduction, Ryan accused the president of making the supercommittee’s job “virtually impossible,” and said the administration has shown no interest “in getting spending under control.”
“[Obama] moved the goal posts on what they’re supposed to accomplish,” Ryan said. “They’re supposed to do all of this stimulus spending and tax increases on top of the $1.2 to $1.5 trillion they’re supposed to cut. And then he threw all of the class warfare stuff at it, which makes it harder for Democrats to compromise with us when their leader is sort of poisoning the well.”
Republican leaders have largely tempered their remarks on class warfare recently, as the Occupy Wall Street protests have increased in popularity.
House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) called the movement a “growing mob” earlier this month before backtracking to say the protesters are “justifiably frustrated” with the financial system and weak economy.
On Tuesday, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) avoided criticism of the protests during an interview on Fox News.
“It’s a free country. People can have their say. We’ve had a robust freedom of speech in this country for over 200 years and it sounds to me like it continues,” McConnell said.
Asked if the protests were “organic” or being supported by Democratic or left-wing groups, McConnell again returned to his argument about free speech, saying people “are free to express themselves in the country on any subject they choose to.”