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Charlie Sykes: Sykes Writes


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 Mary Katherine Ham looks ahead to Ryan's SOTU response. 


So, tonight the mostly thankless task falls to Ryan. Knives are already out for the young budget committee chairman, as Rep. Jan Schakowsky pre-emptively attacked his message on Huffington Post saying Americans will learn from the “personally congenial” Ryan how “dark his vision of America is for all but the super-rich.”

Ryan will face the same staging challenges as those who’ve come before him, but he may also have a more receptive audience than the SOTU responder usually has. Three national polls conducted in January show pluralities or majorities of the American people want significant changes or repeal for the health care law enacted by Democrats in 2010. Some 71 percent of Americans oppose a debt-ceiling increase, the hook on which Ryan will no doubt hang his argument about our dire fiscal situation and the need to make cuts. A CBS poll showed 56 percent of Americans say the government needs to “deal with the deficit now” instead of putting it off. Even a majority of young voters, who are more likely to be liberal than almost any other demographic, put the deficit in their top three concerns in 2010 and told Harvard researchers the president should keep the deficit down, even if it means a slower economic recovery.

This year, there’s a chance a stark, tough-love presentation of our fiscal situation from a likeable numbers guy might actually compare favorably to a laundry list of billion-dollar spending priorities from the president.

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