GOP Pushes Back on Obama's 'Built to Last' Agenda

By: Kenric Ward | Posted: January 25, 2012 3:55 AM
 Barack Obama

President Barack Obama

In his third State of the Union address, President Obama laid out a list of tax and spending initiatives in an effort to prod Congress during an election year -- and congressional Republicans quickly fired back.

To enthusiastic cheers from jack-in-the-box Democrats rising from their seats, Obama renewed his call for higher taxes on upper-income Americans.

"Tax reform should follow the [Warren] Buffett rule: If you make more than $1 million a year, you should not pay less than 30 percent in taxes. If you’re earning a million dollars a year, you shouldn’t get special tax subsidies or deductions," the president declared.

"On the other hand, if you make under $250,000 a year, like 98 percent of American families, your taxes shouldn’t go up."

But the president's populist politics didn't play well with Republicans, who accused him of double-dealing and fudging the numbers.

“The president is on the verge of committing economic malpractice," U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., said after Tuesday night's address to a joint session of Congress.

“How does raising taxes create jobs? How does raising my boss’s taxes help me keep my job?" Rubio asked. "Why is he advocating policies that will punish people that are investing in American businesses that are creating middle class jobs?"

Though Obama claimed 3 million jobs were created in the last 22 months, U.S. Rep. David Rivera, R-Miami, countered that unemployment remains higher than when Obama took office. Meantime, the national debt has grown to more than $15 trillion.

“Unfortunately, according to the president and Democrats in the Senate, the solution to these problems is not only more government participation in the private sector, but more government spending as a means to help an ailing economy," Rivera said.

Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels, delivering the official Republican response, hammered the president for failing to focus on private-sector growth as the key to economic recovery.


Steven Law, president and CEO of the conservative group American Crossroads, said the president's speech "hit four themes, all with campaign purposes -- education because he’s terrified of losing the student vote, immigration because he’s terrified of losing the Hispanic vote, manufacturing because he’s trying to stem his losses among blue-collar workers, and foreign policy because it’s the only place he can celebrate even modest success.

"Barack Obama made clear that he wants Americans to ignore the last three years and double down on an agenda that has yet to turn the economy around."

Republicans noted that the president's hour-long speech -- officially titled "An America Built to Last" -- contained several inconsistencies and crucial omissions.

On the budget, he touted $2 trillion in spending cuts, but George LeMieux, seeking to unseat U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., responded, "Two trillion in cuts? The national debt has gone up $3 trillion in two years. ... Every expenditure should raise the question: Is this worth borrowing money from China?"

Rep. Sandy Adams, R-Orlando, pointed out that Tuesday marked the 1,000th day without a budget from Senate Democrats.

On energy, Obama said his administration has "opened millions of new acres" for natural gas exploration and predicted 600,000 new natural-gas jobs by end of decade. He also said domestic oil production is at its highest level in eight years.

But experts say production is up because gas prices have doubled during the past three years. Meanwhile, Adams noted that Congress "sent the president the Keystone XL pipeline extension, only to have him reject it for political purposes. The extension would create 20,000 ‘shovel ready’ jobs and increase America’s energy independence."

On illegal immigration, Obama asserted that his administration had put "more boots on the ground" and that illegal border crossings are down.

"In reality, he is doing everything he can to tear down our borders and promote amnesty couched as 'comprehensive immigration reform,'" said George Fuller, an immigration-control activist.

Dave Caulkett, vice president of Floridians for Immigration Enforcement, added, "The president’s support of the DREAM Act symbolizes his disdain for the rule of law."

Back on taxes, Obama received hearty applause when he declared, "No American company should be able to avoid paying its fair share of taxes by moving jobs and profits overseas.

"From now on, every multinational company should have to pay a basic minimum tax. And every penny should go toward lowering taxes for companies that choose to stay here and hire here."

Putting the GOP-controlled House on notice in an election year, the president urged passage of several legislative initiatives to:
  • "Help manufacturers eliminate energy waste in their factories and give businesses incentives to upgrade their buildings."
  • "Take the money we’re no longer spending at war, use half of it to pay down our debt, and use the rest to do some nation-building right here at home."
  • "Give every responsible homeowner the chance to save about $3,000 a year on their mortgage by refinancing at historically low interest rates."
Then, calling for another extension of the payroll tax cut, the president said, "Our most immediate priority is stopping a tax hike on 160 million working Americans while the recovery is still fragile."

The current payroll tax rate is set to expire again at the end of February because Senate Democrats engineered only a two-month extension before heading home for the winter holiday last month.

"As long as I’m president, I will work with anyone in this chamber to build on this momentum," Obama said of efforts to kick-start the economy. "But I intend to fight obstruction with action, and I will oppose any effort to return to the very same policies that brought on this economic crisis in the first place."


Turning to foreign affairs, the president echoed the leading GOP presidential contenders, saying, "America is determined to prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon, and I will take no options off the table to achieve that goal."

And changing his earlier tune about a multi-polar world, Obama sounded an America-first theme, declaring that the United States "remains the one indispensable nation in world affairs -- and as long as I’m president, I intend to keep it that way."

But Republicans saw smoke and mirrors -- or worse -- when the president glibly announced, without elaboration, "I have proposed a new defense strategy that ensures we maintain the finest military in the world, while saving nearly half a trillion dollars in our budget."

Earlier in his speech, the president proposed to "Take the money we’re no longer spending at war, use half of it to pay down our debt, and use the rest to do some nation-building right here at home."

Rep. John Mica, R-Orlando, said, “America needs to rebuild its infrastructure, but I do not support what appears to be the president’s plan to finance that effort by downsizing the military.  

"Next week, Republicans will introduce a long-stalled major transportation measure -- killed two years ago by the president -- that will be financed in part by increased American energy production, creating jobs and lowering energy costs,” said Mica, chairman of the House Transportation Committee.


In the spirit of bipartisanship, Rep. Bill Posey, R-Rockledge, summed up his response to Obama's address this way:
“The president said he believed what Republican Abraham Lincoln believed: ‘That government should do for people only what they cannot do better by themselves, and no more.’ I respect that, and where his actions follow those words, he will have my support.”  

Taking a dimmer view, Rep. Tom Rooney, R-Tequesta, said, “The president had the opportunity to put forward new ideas and find common ground to help get Americans back to work and solve our debt crisis, but instead he delivered a campaign speech designed to divide the American people and pit some groups of Americans against others. What a shame. 

"Anyone who expected more than a campaign speech aimed at the president’s liberal base must be sorely disappointed,” Rooney said.

Contact Kenric Ward at kward@sunshinestatenews.com or at (772) 801-5341.

Comments (4)

William Cleave Drummond II
2:30PM JAN 30TH 2012
If the people at the top would create jobs for those at the bottom they would not have to worry about the President seeking more money from them. Jobs create consumers and consumers buy products that will make them more money then the jobs that they initially created.
Jim B.
9:17AM JAN 25TH 2012
Okay Mr. Ward there were a couple of items I found interesting. Here is one especially noteworthy.

"Rep. Sandy Adams, R-Orlando, pointed out that Tuesday marked the 1,000th day without a budget from Senate Democrats."

This must have been one heck of a talking point because I received it about ten times yesterday. The Senate, The House, Heritage and Freedomworks all mailed out the same thing, word for word. I would like to suggest something that should result in a budget but will never be done. No budge, no work. Shut the government down. No more bills, no more spending extensions, no more bogus payroll tax cuts, no social security payments. Nothing. Period. The House (now controlled by Republicans) send a budget to the Senate and then that is it. Nothing else until a budget is passed. THIS WILL NEVER HAPPEN. Why? Well because the Republicans love to count off the days and use them in their campaigns and the Democrats love to use the "haves vs. the have nots" card during their campaign. They never cut spending because too many items are baseline spending which triggers automatic increases each year. Smoke and mirrors my friends and America suffers.

The other item that which is just too funny is securing our borders. Yes Obama has put more boots on the ground. I mean, someone has to deliver all those guns to the drug dealers don't they? This is an absolute joke. You have the federal government suing their own people who are doing nothing more than protecting their borders from invasion. You have people like JD Alexander and Adam Putnam preventing illegal alien laws in our state while Alabama laws have resulted in a decrease in unemployment. Makes me wonder who they are working for, the people of Florida or Obama? Oh and finally, I am tire of editors writing suck up pieces about legislators and their passionate pleas from the Senate floor on behalf of people who brake our laws.
Pat Galbraith
7:26AM JAN 25TH 2012
I watchead the speech. Excellent - campaign speech. And those laws he wants, he didn't mention the 30 or so House passed bills languishing in the Senate. And how about a budget? The House passed one, I think in March. Maybe the Senate could try.

But I'm not going to hold my breath. The whole scheme is to make sure nothing gets through the Congress and blame those who are actually doing something.
1:40PM JAN 25TH 2012
Do you think any of the 30 job bills Boehner keeps touting contain legislation to make e-verify national policy? As most know, e-verify requires businesses to verify new hires are legal workers.

Without jobs, illegal aliens self deport to a sanctuary state like Florida, if we had national e-verify illegals would self deport out of the country. Self deport is something the media does not understand. You know when a politician or media person says "You can't deport 11 million people" they are lying or do not understand self deportation.

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