Republicans want to enforce a "radical vision" on the nation, President Barack Obama said on Tuesday, accusing the GOP of moving so far to the right that even one of its beloved figures, Ronald Reagan, could not win a Republican presidential primary today.
He also tore into the Republican budget plan put forward by Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI).
"It's a Trojan Horse," the president said.
Disguised as [a] deficit reduction plan, it's really an attempt to impose a radical vision on our country. It's nothing but thinly-veiled Social Darwinism. It's antithetical to our entire history as a land of opportunity and upward mobility for everyone who's willing to work for it -- a place where prosperity doesn't trickle down from the top, but grows outward from the heart of the middle class.
And by gutting the very things we need to grow an economy that's built to last -- education and training; research and development -- it's a prescription for decline.
Rep. Ryan responded with this tweet:
In a blistering election-year critique, the president sought to present himself to voters as the protector of the middle class and the leader of a Democratic Party that is willing to compromise in Washington, the Associated Press reports.
He singled out the front-runner for the GOP presidential nomination, Mitt Romney, for criticism and more broadly said Republicans had shifted from any reasonable debate on health care, debt reduction, and the environment.
Republicans "will brook no compromise," President Obama told news executives at the annual meeting of The Associated Press.
He cited a Republican presidential debate late last year when the entire field rejected the prospect of $10 in spending cuts for every $1 in tax increases as a means to lower the debt.
"Think about that. Ronald Reagan, who as I recall was not accused of being a tax-and-spend socialist, understood repeatedly that when the deficit started to get out of control that for him to make a deal he would have to propose both spending cuts and tax increases," the president said.
"He did it multiple times. He could not get through a Republican primary today," he added.
Making his case for his re-election, the president said nation must "restore a sense of security" for "hard-working Americans" and stand for a government willing to help those in hard times, the AP reports. The Democratic president blasted Republicans by name and said the choice between the parties is "unambiguously clear."
Stirring anew the themes of his State of the Union speech, Obama said the central issue for the country is deciding whether it wants to give everyone a "fair chance" - with government as a tool to help do that - or whether it is content to let only the wealthy succeed.
Watch some of the president’s remarks (via Town Hall):
President Obama used his speech to paint his Republican rivals as protectors of a trickle-down economic philosophy that does not work. He claimed prosperity in the U.S. has never come from “trickle down” policies, but rather from the success of a strong middle class.
"That's how a generation who went to college on the GI Bill, including my grandfather, helped build the most prosperous economy the world has ever known," the president said.
"That's why a CEO like Henry Ford made it his mission to pay his workers enough so they could buy the cars that they made. That's why studies have shown that countries with less inequality tend to have stronger and steadier economic growth over the long run," he added.
The president directly challenged Romney for embracing a $3.5 trillion budget proposal led by Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin that was approved by the House last week. Ryan's proposal aims to slash the federal deficit and reduce the size of government. It stands little chance in the Democratic-controlled Senate, yet the president targeted it as a symbol of the Republican vision.
President Obama said that instead of moderating their views even slightly, the Republicans running Congress have "doubled down" and proposed a budget so far to the right it makes the "Contract With America" look like the "New Deal."
Yet the president also sought to buffer himself from criticism that he is a supporter of big government.
"I believe deeply that the free market is the greatest force for economic progress in human history," the president said.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.