Daniel Henninger likes what he sees in the Ryan budget for FY 2012. But, he especially likes the way it underscores American exceptionalism:
Paul Ryan, in his budget's introduction: "Decline is antithetical to the American Idea. America is a nation conceived in liberty, dedicated to equality and defined by limitless opportunity. . . . This budget's goal is to keep it exceptional, and to preserve its promise for the next generation."
One finds high Cs of optimism in every budget message (well, maybe not the Carter budgets). So, too, Barack Obama's initial February 2009 budget. But the Obama prescriptions reflected Democratic Party politics of our time, which insists that prosperity begins inside someone's head in Washington and then flows out to the country. The country is a taker of what Washington creates or allows—whether the Obama health-care plan or anti-carbon regulations. Reagan-Ryan argues that prosperity is born inside the heads of several hundred million citizens, and that the government's first responsibility is not to kill the yeast.
That pretty much sums up the difference between Democrats' and Republicans' thinking. It also indicates why the economic issues matter to social conservatives, and why neo-liberal economics is a better fit for religious believers than progressive-liberal economics.
It boils down to a single principle: Subsidiarity. On that count, Republicans win, hands down. Solidarity can be pursued by either route. And, human dignity is fostered by liberty and personal initiative, not by unnecessary dependence.