“An America Built to Last” – the theme of this year’s State of the Union Address. A great slogan and an even better promise. But it occurred to me as I sat through President Barack Obama’s third State of the Union address that I had heard this rhetoric somewhere before. In fact, I’ve heard over and over again the same tired idea that big government is the answer to our nation’s problems. Americans have specifically and repeatedly rejected this premise over the last several years. Yet, last Tuesday night the President put forward a speech light on proposals to rein in our debt or to provide jobs to Americans. We heard more empty promises and more calls for bipartisanship from one of the most partisan presidents in history. It seems almost comical that the President would title his speech after a catchphrase coined in reference to successful, long-lasting companies[i] and then seek to tax and over-regulate these very same job creators. We’ve heard it before, tried it, and it hasn’t worked.
The President was right to note that we have seen some recent success in foreign policy. Under his presidency, our military ended the life of the world’s most hated terrorist, Osama bin Laden, and the Iraq war has come to an end. No one should begrudge the President for these triumphs. However, I would remind our commander-in-chief that these achievements were only made possible because the United States maintains the very best military in the history of the world. While trumpeting his national security successes, the President is cutting more than $400 billion from the defense budget, not including the more than $500 billion in additional cuts starting in 2013 as part of the sequestration process. Slicing almost a trillion dollars from our military will irreparably harm the defense posture of this country, something I will not stand for and will fight to prevent.
While we have seen many victories overseas, the President’s record here at home is much more troubling. In what amounted to a 2012 campaign kickoff speech, the President asked for a little more time, a little more money, and a little more government to get America going again. At what point will this President stop blaming the last for our nation’s woes? With all due respect, it’s been three years. All of his signature policies have been enacted over our objections including Obamacare, Dodd-Frank, and a $1 trillion stimulus program. Every time he signed one of these bills into law, the President told us unemployment would go down and the economy would improve. It didn’t happen, and three years later, two million more Americans are out of work, and our economy remains stagnant.
Tuesday night, the President demanded that Congress act. “Send me a bill” he said, “and I will sign it right away.” Send me a bill? House Republicans have sent TWENTY-SEVEN jobs bills to the Senate that have never seen the light of day. Maybe the President needs to direct his words towards his own party’s Senate leadership and get them moving on these bills. In particular, we need the Senate to pass a budget so we have a blueprint to reduce government spending, something they have been unable to do in 1,000 days and counting. The President was elected to his first term in the Senate and announced his candidacy for President in less time than 1,000 days. If our founding fathers can draft and enact a Constitution for a new country (twice!) in 1,000 days, certainly the Senate can pass an annual budget. Yet even more hypocrisy came from the President’s call for increased American-made energy. This coming less than a week after the President denied the Keystone XL Pipeline project that would have done exactly that, not to mention providing thousands of jobs to American workers.
I will give the President credit for proposing at least one specific initiative – a tax increase on many job creators and small businesses. He even said, “You can call it class warfare all you want.” But that’s exactly what it is – pitting small businesses and job creators against the poor and unemployed. And what is the President’s solution to such a problem? Higher taxes and more government! Increase taxes to pay for the highest number of food stamp recipients in history. To be clear, even if we taxed millionaires at 100 percent, taking every single penny they’ve earned, it would not change the fact that the 2011 deficit is still the highest annual deficit accumulated under any President’s watch. And as for the President’s promise that taxes won’t increase for those making under $250,000? The President has actually signed into law at least 16 new tax increases during his term in office that directly impact the middle-class. I agree we need to fix the tax code and get rid of loopholes, but we also need to end special tax subsidies like those given to Solyndra, not call for higher taxes to pay for more government spending in the midst of an unstable economy.
At the end of the State of the Union address, I was left not inspired, but unfulfilled, much like the promise of hope and change we heard three years ago. Simply put, this Administration speaks one way and acts another. Promises don’t provide jobs to the unemployed. Rhetoric doesn’t get our economy growing again. It is time to put aside eloquent speechmaking and crafty slogans and instead get to work on putting Americans back to work. House Republicans have and continue to stand ready and willing for the President to work with us.