You’ll find the Republican response to President Obama’s State of the Union speech to Congress (Bill has the text up at his site) delivered by Senator Marco Rubio (R-Florida). Bonus: responses from Georgia’s Congressional delegation below Senator Rubio’s response. Discuss it and the State of the Union address below in the comments.
Good evening. I’m Marco Rubio. I’m blessed to represent Florida in the United States Senate. Let me begin by congratulating President Obama on the start of his second term. Tonight, I have the honor of responding to his State of the Union address on behalf of my fellow Republicans. And I am especially honored to be addressing our brave men and women serving in the armed forces and in diplomatic posts around the world. You may be thousands of miles away, but you are always in our prayers.
The State of the Union address is always a reminder of how unique America is. For much of human history, most people were trapped in stagnant societies, where a tiny minority always stayed on top, and no one else even had a chance.
But America is exceptional because we believe that every life, at every stage, is precious, and that everyone everywhere has a God-given right to go as far as their talents and hard work will take them.
Like most Americans, for me this ideal is personal. My parents immigrated here in pursuit of the opportunity to improve their life and give their children the chance at an even better one. They made it to the middle class, my dad working as a bartender and my mother as a cashier and a maid. I didn’t inherit any money from them. But I inherited something far better – the real opportunity to accomplish my dreams.
This opportunity – to make it to the middle class or beyond no matter where you start out in life – it isn’t bestowed on us from Washington. It comes from a vibrant free economy where people can risk their own money to open a business. And when they succeed, they hire more people, who in turn invest or spend the money they make, helping others start a business and create jobs.
Presidents in both parties – from John F. Kennedy to Ronald Reagan – have known that our free enterprise economy is the source of our middle class prosperity.
But President Obama? He believes it’s the cause of our problems. That the economic downturn happened because our government didn’t tax enough, spend enough and control enough. And, therefore, as you heard tonight, his solution to virtually every problem we face is for Washington to tax more, borrow more and spend more.
This idea – that our problems were caused by a government that was too small – it’s just not true. In fact, a major cause of our recent downturn was a housing crisis created by reckless government policies.
And the idea that more taxes and more government spending is the best way to help hardworking middle class taxpayers – that’s an old idea that’s failed every time it’s been tried.
More government isn’t going to help you get ahead. It’s going to hold you back.
More government isn’t going to create more opportunities. It’s going to limit them.
And more government isn’t going to inspire new ideas, new businesses and new private sector jobs. It’s going to create uncertainty.
Because more government breeds complicated rules and laws that a small business can’t afford to follow.
Because more government raises taxes on employers who then pass the costs on to their employees through fewer hours, lower pay and even layoffs.
And because many government programs that claim to help the middle class, often end up hurting them instead.
For example, Obamacare was supposed to help middle class Americans afford health insurance. But now, some people are losing the health insurance they were happy with. And because Obamacare created expensive requirements for companies with more than 50 employees, now many of these businesses aren’t hiring. Not only that; they’re being forced to lay people off and switch from full-time employees to part-time workers.
Now does this mean there’s no role for government? Of course not. It plays a crucial part in keeping us safe, enforcing rules, and providing some security against the risks of modern life. But government’s role is wisely limited by the Constitution. And it can’t play its essential role when it ignores those limits.
There are valid reasons to be concerned about the President’s plan to grow our government. But any time anyone opposes the President’s agenda, he and his allies usually respond by falsely attacking their motives.
When we point out that no matter how many job-killing laws we pass, our government can’t control the weather – he accuses us of wanting dirty water and dirty air.
When we suggest we strengthen our safety net programs by giving states more flexibility to manage them – he accuses us of wanting to leave the elderly and disabled to fend for themselves.
And tonight, he even criticized us for refusing to raise taxes to delay military cuts – cuts that were his idea in the first place.
But his favorite attack of all is that those who don’t agree with him – they only care about rich people.
Mr. President, I still live in the same working class neighborhood I grew up in. My neighbors aren’t millionaires. They’re retirees who depend on Social Security and Medicare. They’re workers who have to get up early tomorrow morning and go to work to pay the bills. They’re immigrants, who came here because they were stuck in poverty in countries where the government dominated the economy.
The tax increases and the deficit spending you propose will hurt middle class families. It will cost them their raises. It will cost them their benefits. It may even cost some of them their jobs.
And it will hurt seniors because it does nothing to save Medicare and Social Security.
So Mr. President, I don’t oppose your plans because I want to protect the rich. I oppose your plans because I want to protect my neighbors.
Hard-working middle class Americans who don’t need us to come up with a plan to grow the government. They want a plan to grow the middle class.
Economic growth is the best way to help the middle class. Unfortunately, our economy actually shrank during the last three months of 2012.
But if we can get the economy to grow at just 4 percent a year, it would create millions of middle class jobs. And it could reduce our deficits by almost $4 trillion dollars over the next decade.
Tax increases can’t do this. Raising taxes won’t create private sector jobs. And there’s no realistic tax increase that could lower our deficits by almost $4 trillion. That’s why I hope the President will abandon his obsession with raising taxes and instead work with us to achieve real growth in our economy.
One of the best ways to encourage growth is through our energy industry. Of course solar and wind energy should be a part of our energy portfolio. But God also blessed America with abundant coal, oil and natural gas. Instead of wasting more taxpayer money on so-called “clean energy” companies like Solyndra, let’s open up more federal lands for safe and responsible exploration. And let’s reform our energy regulations so that they’re reasonable and based on common sense. If we can grow our energy industry, it will make us energy independent, it will create middle class jobs and it will help bring manufacturing back from places like China.
Simplifying our tax code will also help the middle class, because it will make it easier for small businesses to hire and grow.
And we agree with the President that we should lower our corporate tax rate, which is one of the highest in the world, so that companies will start bringing their money and their jobs back here from overseas.
We can also help our economy grow if we have a legal immigration system that allows us to attract and assimilate the world’s best and brightest. We need a responsible, permanent solution to the problem of those who are here illegally. But first, we must follow through on the broken promises of the past to secure our borders and enforce our laws.
Helping the middle class grow will also require an education system that gives people the skills today’s jobs entail and the knowledge that tomorrow’s world will require.
We need to incentivize local school districts to offer more advanced placement courses and more vocational and career training.
We need to give all parents, especially the parents of children with special needs, the opportunity to send their children to the school of their choice.
And because tuition costs have grown so fast, we need to change the way we pay for higher education.
I believe in federal financial aid. I couldn’t have gone to college without it. But it’s not just about spending more money on these programs; it’s also about strengthening and modernizing them.
A 21st century workforce should not be forced to accept 20th century education solutions. Today’s students aren’t only 18 year olds. They’re returning veterans. They’re single parents who decide to get the education they need to earn a decent wage. And they’re workers who have lost jobs that are never coming back and need to be retrained.
We need student aid that does not discriminate against programs that non-traditional students rely on – like online courses, or degree programs that give you credit for work experience.
When I finished school, I owed over 100,000 dollars in student loans, a debt I paid off just a few months ago. Today, many graduates face massive student debt. We must give students more information on the costs and benefits of the student loans they’re taking out.
All these measures are key to helping the economy grow. But we won’t be able to sustain a vibrant middle class unless we solve our debt problem.
Every dollar our government borrows is money that isn’t being invested to create jobs. And the uncertainty created by the debt is one reason why many businesses aren’t hiring.
The President loves to blame the debt on President Bush. But President Obama created more debt in four years than his predecessor did in eight.
The real cause of our debt is that our government has been spending 1 trillion dollars more than it takes in every year. That’s why we need a balanced budget amendment.
The biggest obstacles to balancing the budget are programs where spending is already locked in. One of these programs, Medicare, is especially important to me. It provided my father the care he needed to battle cancer and ultimately die with dignity. And it pays for the care my mother receives now.
I would never support any changes to Medicare that would hurt seniors like my mother. But anyone who is in favor of leaving Medicare exactly the way it is right now, is in favor of bankrupting it.
Republicans have offered a detailed and credible plan that helps save Medicare without hurting today’s retirees. Instead of playing politics with Medicare, when is the President going to offer his plan to save it? Tonight would have been a good time for him to do it.
Of course, we face other challenges as well. We were all heart broken by the recent tragedy in Connecticut. We must effectively deal with the rise of violence in our country. But unconstitutionally undermining the 2nd Amendment rights of law-abiding Americans is not the way to do it.
On foreign policy, America continues to be indispensable to the goal of global liberty, prosperity and safeguarding human rights. The world is a better place when America is the strongest nation on earth. But we can’t remain powerful if we don’t have an economy that can afford it.
In the short time I’ve been here in Washington, nothing has frustrated me more than false choices like the ones the President laid out tonight.
The choice isn’t just between big government or big business. What we need is an accountable, efficient and effective government that allows small and new businesses to create middle class jobs.
We don’t have to raise taxes to avoid the President’s devastating cuts to our military. Republicans have passed a plan that replaces these cuts with responsible spending reforms.
In order to balance our budget, the choice doesn’t have to be either higher taxes or dramatic benefit cuts for those in need. Instead we should grow our economy so that we create new taxpayers, not new taxes, and so our government can afford to help those who truly cannot help themselves.
And the truth is every problem can’t be solved by government. Many are caused by the moral breakdown in our society. And the answers to those challenges lie primarily in our families and our faiths, not our politicians.
Despite our differences, I know that both Republicans and Democrats love America. I pray we can come together to solve our problems, because the choices before us could not be more important.
If we can get our economy healthy again, our children will be the most prosperous Americans ever.
And if we do not, we will forever be known as the generation responsible for America’s decline.
At a time when one showdown after another ends in short-term deals that do little or nothing about our real problems, some are starting to believe that our government leaders just can’t or won’t make the right choices anymore.
But our strength has never come from the White House or the Capitol. It’s always come from our people. A people united by the American idea that, if you have a dream and you are willing to work hard, nothing should be impossible.
Americans have always celebrated and been inspired by those who succeed. But it’s the dreams of those who are still trying to make it that sets our nation apart.
Tonight, all across this land, parents will hold their newborn children in their arms for the first time. For many of these parents, life has not gone the way they had planned.
Maybe they were born into circumstances they’ve found difficult to escape. Maybe they’ve made some mistakes along the way. Maybe they’re young mothers, all alone, the father of their child long gone.
But tonight, when they look into the eyes of their child for the first time, their lives will change forever. Because in those eyes, they will see what my parents saw in me, and what your parents saw in you. They will see all the hopes and dreams they once had for themselves.
This dream – of a better life for their children – it’s the hope of parents everywhere. Politicians here and throughout the world have long promised that more government can make those dreams come true.
But we Americans have always known better. From our earliest days, we embraced economic liberty instead. And because we did, America remains one of the few places on earth where dreams like these even have a chance.
Each time our nation has faced great challenges, what has kept us together was our shared hope for a better life.
Now, let that hope bring us together again. To solve the challenges of our time and write the next chapter in the amazing story of the greatest nation man has ever known.
Thank you for listening. May God bless all of you. May God bless our President. And may God continue to bless the United States of America.
Response from Congressman Paul Broun (R-GA-10):
U.S. Congressman Paul Broun, M.D. (GA-10), the only announced candidate for Georgia’s open seat in the United States Senate, tonight exposed President Obama’s failure to address our nation’s challenges in his annual State of the Union. Broun released the following statement:
“Tonight the President stood before the American people to tell us there is nothing wrong with America that more taxes, spending, and government cannot fix,” said Broun.
“As a constitutional conservative, I know that giving government more money and more power will have a devastating effect on job creation and our struggling economy. Georgians want a Senator who will stand up to the President, his lapdog Harry Reid, and the big spenders in Congress.
“Additionally, we have a sequester about to be put in place that the President’s own advisers admit was his idea, and his solution is to raise taxes or blame Republicans for the failure to repeal it.
“Last week, I spent time all across our great state talking to folks about what they’re looking for in their next U.S. Senator. Not only do they want someone who will fight for lower taxes, less spending, and less government intrusion into their lives, they also want someone who will not back down from these challenges. As Georgia’s next U.S. Senator, I will continue to ensure that Georgians get to keep more of their paychecks, that Congress stops burying our families and small businesses in debt, and that the size of the federal government shrinks – so that American liberty can grow.”
A video response from Congressman Tom Graves (R-GA-14):
From Congressman Jack Kingston (R-GA-01):
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congressman Jack Kingston (R-GA) released the following statement in advance of President Obama’s State of the Union Address:
“Actions speak louder than words. While this President gives eloquent speeches, we have yet to see from him the kind of leadership our country needs right now. We need to come together for real action that will foster job creation through private sector expansion, bring down the cost of energy, and reduce our national debt.”
“In the House, we have advanced legislation that would make the tax code fairer, flatter, and more conducive to growth. We have acted to safely and efficiently harness America’s energy potential. We have worked to rein in government and reduce deficits. All of this has been met with inaction from the Senate and a White House more intent on campaigning than working with us. When the President is ready to come off the bully pulpit and do the people’s work, we will be here.”
Video Response from Senator Johnny Isakson (R-GA):
Response from Senator Saxby Chambliss (R-GA):
WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga., released the following statement today regarding the President’s State of the Union Address:
“I am pleased that President Obama is once again pivoting to jobs, but was disappointed in his larger message. Bigger government and more spending are not the keys to American prosperity. To create more jobs and a better quality of life for all Americans, we must tame our debt and deficit while getting our nation’s spending under control. Instead of trying to grow government and raise taxes yet again during a time of economic hardship, we should be enacting meaningful legislation that reforms entitlements, simplifies the tax code and cuts spending.”
From the House Republican Conference–the real State of the Union:
2009 2013 Change National Debt $10.6 Trillion $16.4 Trillion +$5.8 Trillion Unemployment Rate 7.8% 7.9% +0.1% Number of people no longer in the labor force 80.5 Million 89.5 Million +8.5 Million Average Cost of a Family Health Insurance Plan $13,375 $20,728 +$7,353 Average Cost of a Gallon of Gas $1.90 $3.61 +$1.71
From Congressman Tom Price (R-GA-06):
Washington, D.C. – Congressman Tom Price, M.D. (GA-06) responded to President Obama’s State of the Union address tonight, saying:
“At a time when our nation faces extraordinary challenges, it would have been encouraging to hear President Obama put aside the divisive, tired rhetoric and demonstrate the kind of unifying leadership our country so desperately needs. Unfortunately, we saw more of the same – a refusal to acknowledge America’s dire financial outlook and the glaring absence of a plan to truly get our economy moving again.
“Today, our workforce is the smallest it’s been in generations. Our economy is retracting. Millions upon millions of Americans are hurting because of President Obama’s policies. Those policies are keeping more moms and dads without jobs from being able to support their families. Those policies are resulting in more workers on the verge of retirement suddenly being laid off. Those policies are causing more college graduates to be discouraged as they enter a job market with nearly 8 percent unemployment.
“The President is missing the opportunity to actually solve the challenges facing this nation – whether it is the weak economy, energy usage, health care costs, a broken tax code, or Washington’s fiscal irresponsibility. And yet there are positive solutions that could be embraced. House Republicans have pushed a pro-growth agenda which would lift the economy, expand American-made energy, put patients in charge of health care, eliminate special interest loopholes, and move our nation’s finances to balance.
“Tonight’s speech sadly did not demonstrate that this administration understands how to right the course of this nation and return her to prosperity. Nevertheless, I am hopeful that with the continued support of the American people, we can get to work on real solutions that will put this nation on the path to fiscal responsibility and a real recovery, creating jobs and having more dreams realized.”
From Congressman Phil Gingrey (R-GA-11):
Many of you watched President Obama’s State of the Union address this evening, in which he outlined his vision for our country—an agenda marked by greater government intrusion, increased spending, higher taxes, and less personal freedoms.
If these last four years have taught us anything, however, it’s that “more government” is not the solution to our problems. In fact, it’s oftentimes the root of the problem. Despite the soaring rhetoric we heard tonight, consider the following:
In 2009, President Obama pledged to cut our national debt in half. Instead, we’ve added $5 trillion to the deficit with no end in sight. Americans aren’t better off now than they were $5 trillion ago, and our children and grandchildren will be forced to foot the bill. Unemployment remains high, millions more have dropped out of the work force entirely, and the cost of everything from gas to groceries continues to rise.
In 2010, President Obama and Democrats assured us that their health care law would lower costs and cover millions of uninsured Americans. Fast forward three years and we’ve seen nothing but broken promises and an enormous price tag. Just last week, the Congressional Budget Office reported that under Obamacare health care costs will increase and seven million Americans will lose their coverage.
President Obama pledged in 2011 to review all federal regulations and remove burdensome ones that inhibit job creation and economic growth. Instead, our nation’s job creators have been handed a “regulation wave” from federal agencies, most notably the Environmental Protection Agency. In Georgia alone, the EPA’s war on coal has already forced plant closures around the state, resulting in the loss of 500 jobs.
And at last year’s State of the Union, President Obama declared his support for an “all of the above energy policy” that would lower prices and create jobs. In reality, this administration has favored untested, taxpayer-funded green energy programs like Solyndra while blocking construction of the privately-funded Keystone XL Pipeline. The pipeline would put tens of thousands of Americans back to work and put the United States on the path towards energy independence.
The conservative vision for America provides an alternative path forward for the future of our great nation, and House Republicans will continue fighting for it. Lower taxes, less government spending, and rewarding our nation’s job creators—rather than punishing them—is how we’ll put America back to work. We’ll keep working towards enacting health care reforms that truly lower costs while allowing people to decide what’s best for themselves and their families. Drastically reducing government spending, implementing pro-growth tax reforms and addressing entitlements are key to ensuring our path to prosperity.
From Congressman Lynn Westmoreland (R-GA-03):
Last night, President Obama gave his fourth State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress. Below is Congressman Westmoreland’s statement.
“What can I say. The president’s State of the Union speech was the same thing we have heard in the previous speeches – higher taxes, more government spending, more regulations on small businesses. If I tried to highlight every problem I had with the speech and every stretch of the truth in it, my reaction statement would end up as long as his speech. So let me point out one of the most troubling: his discussion of our national security.
“In what has become the norm with President Obama’s approach to our national defense, he made conflicting statements. He admitted that al Qaeda and the multiple terrorist networks around the world are still a threat to Americans. But he then stated his plan to transfer the responsibility of fighting that threat to countries like Yemen, Libya, and Somalia. As a member of the House Intelligence Committee, I can tell you right now that while I am sure the military forces of those three countries work and train hard, they cannot possibly match the capabilities of the United States military. And I certainly don’t want to trust another country’s military to protect our citizens and our homeland. We took this “hands off” approach to the terrorist threat before – and it resulted in the horrible attacks on September 11th 2001.
“And while the president mentioned the impact the upcoming sequester will have on our national defense, he did not offer a reasonable plan to avoid it. House Republicans have passed two different pieces of legislation to stop the sequester and the president has opposed both – even though just before the president’s speech, his spokesperson admitted the idea of the sequester originated in the White House.
Most shocking, he essentially glazed over the threat posed by rogue nations like North Korea and Iran – even after the nuclear test conducted by North Korea early yesterday morning. These two countries pose a very real and serious threat to our country and his statement, ‘Provocations of the sort we saw last night will only isolate them further, as we stand by our allies, strengthen our own missile defense, and lead the world in taking firm action in response to these threats’ was not only childishly idealistic and unrealistic, it was downright dangerous,” stated Westmoreland.