State of the Union Preview: Paul Ryan & the Republican Response

ABC News' Jonathan Karl reports: The Republican response to the State of the Union will showcase 40-year-old Paul Ryan, R-WI, chairman of the House Budget Committee. Ryan is a policy intellectual and one of the few members of Congress who has seriously proposed ways to deal with the deficit, but his proposals – which would curtail the growth of Social Security spending and eventually replace Medicare with a voucher program – are controversial and have not been endorsed by the GOP leadership.

Ryan will speak from the Budget Committee room and offer a no-compromise message on cutting federal spending.

A senior House Republican sums the message up this way: “Ryan will make clear in his address that Washington’s spending binge is hampering job creation and piling debt on our children and grandchildren. Despite the government’s massive spending binge, we still have historic unemployment and the most debt in U.S. history. Ryan will make clear that in order to boost private-sector job creation we must cut spending.”

He will also take a firm position on the coming showdown over raising the federal debt ceiling: Republicans will not support an increase in the debt limit unless spending cuts and spending reforms are put in place first.

Ryan is positioned to be the most powerful House Budget Chairman in memory and the key GOP figure in the upcoming battles over federal spending. Under new House rules put in place by the Republicans, Ryan has the unilateral power to set the overall 2011 spending levels for everything but outside of security and entitlement programs. It was a move Rep. Alcee Hastings, D-FL, called “the biggest power grab” in the history of Congress.

By delivering the speech in the Budget Committee room, Ryan will draw attention to the fact that the Democrats failed to pass a budget – something Republicans say had never happened before.

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