Paul Ryan CPAC Speech Sticks To Same Fiscal Policies, Ignores 2012 Election

Ryan Addresses Conservatives At Annual Conference

NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. -- It's like the November election didn't even happen.

Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) on Friday gave a speech to GOP activists at the Conservative Political Action Conference, the largest annual gathering of conservatives. Instead of taking a step back from the daily grind of politics and laying out a new path for the movement based on the lessons learned from his and Mitt Romney's loss in November, Ryan stuck to the same sharp fiscal promises that he and Romney ran on -- and which voters largely rejected -- in the 2012 election.

"Our debt is a threat to this country. We have to tackle this problem before it tackles us. So today, I want to make the case for balance. That case, in a nutshell, is that a balanced budget will promote a healthier economy," said Ryan.

The audience was certainly sympathetic to Ryan's governing philosophy. He's still a star in the Republican Party, and most likely, he didn't have to make the case for a balanced budget to them; they were already on board.

But while some sessions at CPAC have offered introspection on the election losses suffered by Republicans, Ryan chose to keep the focus on his budget, which he unveiled this week.

The plan by Ryan, who is the House Budget Committee chairman, includes $4.6 trillion in cuts over the next decade. It plans to balance the budget in 10 years by slashing Medicare, Medicaid and programs to aid the poor, including food stamps. It would also repeal Obamacare -- a position that Romney and Ryan promoted heavily in the 2012 campaign as well.

"The president says we're in a recovery," said Ryan. "I say we're in critical care. ... We are on the verge of a debt crisis."

"We don't hide behind our beliefs," Ryan added. "We argue for them, because a budget is more than just a list of numbers; it's an expression of our governing philosophy. And our budget draws a very sharp contrast with the left. It says to the people in unmistakable terms: 'They are the party of shared hardship, we are the part of equal opportunity.'"

On Tuesday, Ryan told reporters on Capitol Hill that the election outcome essentially didn't matter.

"The election didn't go our way. Believe me, I know what that feels like," he said. "That means we surrender our principles? That means we stop believing what we believe in? Look, whether the country intended it or not, we have divided government. We have the second largest House majority we've had since World War II. And what we believe in this divided government era, we need to put up our vision."

He also suggested that maybe most voters did agree with the GOP after all.

"Are a lot of these solutions very popular, and did we win these arguments in the campaign? Some of us think so," Ryan said.

Romney is scheduled to give a speech at CPAC on Friday afternoon.

Below, a liveblog of the latest updates from CPAC:

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