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GOP picks Ryan to give State of the Union response

Republicans have selected House Budget Committee chairman Paul Ryan to deliver the party's speech after President Barack Obama's State of the Union address Tuesday night.
/ Source: The Associated Press

Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan, chairman of the House Budget Committee and a leading advocate of cuts in federal spending, will deliver the Republican response to President Barack Obama's State of the Union speech next week, party leaders announced Friday.

Ryan will speak from the committee's hearing room, "where the Democrats' spending spree will end and the Republicans' push for a fiscally responsible budget that cuts spending will begin," they said.

Backed by Tea Party supporters, Republicans won control of the House last fall on a promise to cut spending. In the three weeks since taking power, they have taken several largely symbolic steps in that direction.

Still ahead are more sweeping attempts to roll back spending on hundreds of federal programs to levels in effect two years ago, and to press President Barack Obama for concessions in exchange for GOP support for an increase in the government's debt limit. Additionally, Republicans are expected to outline proposals to rein in the cost of federal benefit programs such as Social Security and Medicare.

As chairman of the Budget Committee, Ryan is expected to play a prominent role in drafting both the outlines and specifics of any proposals.

"More than rhetoric, we need results. I look forward to outlining a vision for a future that fulfills the uniquely American legacy of leaving the next generation with a stronger, more prosperous nation," he said.

Obama is scheduled to speak next Tuesday to a Joint Session of Congress and a nationwide television audience. Any president's State of the Union address is followed within a few weeks by publication of his budget proposals, and the two events traditionally mark the starting point for months of maneuvering between the White House and Congress.

Ryan, 40, was elected to his seventh term in Congress last fall, and raised his profile as one of three authors of "Young Guns, A New Generation of Conservative Leaders."

At the same time, his blueprint for changes in benefit programs became a magnet for criticism from Democrats in the fall campaign.

For Medicare, Ryan proposed retaining the current fee-for-service program for those 55 and older. Anyone younger would be eligible for a federal voucher, which would be directed to the insurance plan of their choice. Eligibility would rise gradually from 65 to 69 ½.

Ryan also has proposed giving workers younger than 55 a choice of remaining in the current Social Security system or contributing a portion of their payroll taxes to a personal account. The funds would be invested with a series of funds managed by the U.S. government, according to Ryan's Web Site.

Both programs face long-term financial difficulties that Ryan said his proposals were designed to fix.