The dapper Tony Blankley said something interesting last night on Hannity (no, I wasn’t reading the great books, I was indulging in TV): the difference between the 1995 government shutdown and a 2011 shutdown, if it comes to that, is Fox News. 

Blankley, who was Newt Gingrich’s top aide in 1995, was indulging in neither hyperbole nor flattery. Well, maybe a little hyperbole: It’s not just Fox; there is today an entire conservative leaning media and blogosphere that prevents the old media types from being the gatekeepers of information. I am hoping Congress avoids a shutdown and moves onto the even harder business of passing the 2012 budget. But if there is a shutdown, the GOP has a fighting chance of making its points just as well as the Democrats.

But it’s the new budget that matters even more. It is being unveiled today by Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, who penned a piece for today’s Wall Street Journal. Ryan wrote:

The president’s recent budget proposal would accelerate America’s descent into a debt crisis. It doubles debt held by the public by the end of his first term and triples it by 2021. It imposes $1.5 trillion in new taxes, with spending that never falls below 23% of the economy. His budget permanently enlarges the size of government. It offers no reforms to save government health and retirement programs, and no leadership.

Our budget, which we call The Path to Prosperity, is very different. For starters, it cuts $6.2 trillion in spending from the president’s budget over the next 10 years, reduces the debt as a percentage of the economy, and puts the nation on a path to actually pay off our national debt. Our proposal brings federal spending to below 20% of gross domestic product (GDP), consistent with the postwar average, and reduces deficits by $4.4 trillion.

A study just released by the Heritage Center for Data Analysis projects that The Path to Prosperity will help create nearly one million new private-sector jobs next year, bring the unemployment rate down to 4% by 2015, and result in 2.5 million additional private-sector jobs in the last year of the decade. It spurs economic growth, with $1.5 trillion in additional real GDP over the decade. According to Heritage’s analysis, it would result in $1.1 trillion in higher wages and an average of $1,000 in additional family income each year.

The Path to Prosperity reduces spending, reforms welfare, including corporate welfare and Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, focuses on health and retirement security, and reforms Medicare. Speaking on Fox News Sunday, Ryan said (as recorded in an excellent article in the American Spectator by G. Tracy Mehan, III):

“We are giving them a political weapon to go against us, but they will have to lie and demagogue to make that a weapon,” said Ryan. “Look, we don’t change benefits for anyone over the age of 55. We save Medicare. We save Medicaid. We save these entitlement programs. We repair our social safety net and we get our country a debt free country for our children and grandchildren’s generation. And we get jobs, we get economic growth.”

Yep, we’ve already seen Harry Reid feigning sympathy Speaker Boehner over the current deliberations for the 2011 budget. Reid says it’s hard for Boehner to act sensibly because the Tea Party is supposedly “screaming in his ear.”  I submit that the Tea Party, like Fox News and other right-of-center outlets, have made it harder for the country to go its merry way towards financial ruin. Here’s the deal, as Mehan sees it, about the much-maligned Tea Party:

Of course, God made the Tea Party movement to be impatient and a scourge to complacency. In this He and it succeeded masterfully. They, the Tea Party not God, will soon have little to grouse about going into the fight over the 2012 budget, the first one on which Speaker John Boehner and Budget Chairman Paul Ryan will be able to put their indelible mark. Compared to the 2011 budget fight, and given the complete no-show on fiscal and entitlement reform by President Obama, what is coming is without precedent in the history of modern American politics: thermonuclear budget war.