SOTU Reactions

Check back to this one often, because we’re going to throw as much reaction of note here as possible. Late tonight we’ll have our own take on it.

UPDATE: We’ll have line-by-line comments on the speech late tonight, but our initial impressions are threefold. First, there was little evidence shown that the president is even aware that his party was raked over the coals by the American people in November of last year, as he seemed to trot out the exact same policies the country rejected in that election. Second, there was an extreme dearth of content in that speech – initiatives which are clearly going nowhere in a Republican House of Representatives do not signify content. And third, even when Obama attempted to move to the center he cancelled himself out with equivocations or policy proposals which would all but neuter any free-market moves we could perceive.

In all, a lackluster job.

But that’s just our take. From elsewhere on the web…

First up, U.S. Rep. John Fleming’s reaction:

“Tonight, the President called for swift and immediate measures to speed up job creation and cut federal spending. I could not agree more. Yet, over the past two years, the President has championed legislation that has done just the opposite. From ObamaCare to the drilling moratorium to burdensome financial and environmental regulation, federal spending has exploded all the while our unemployment rate lingers near 10%. We know that when the President says investment he means more spending; when he says deficit reduction he means higher taxes; and when he declares himself a born-again regulatory reformer he means new regulations sky-rocketed under his administration.

“It is obviously time to take another approach. House Republicans are serious about cutting spending, lowering taxes, and scaling back burdensome regulation to get this economy back on track. In just the first two weeks in the Majority, we’ve voted to repeal ObamaCare, proposed $2.6 trillion in spending cuts and rolled back budgets in our personal offices to pre-2008 levels — and that is just the beginning. Over the next few months, Republicans will continue to propose policies that get the government out of the way and allow the free-market to do what it does best – create jobs.”

Here’s the transcript of Paul Ryan’s response:

The text of the official Republican response to President Obama’s State of the Union address from Rep. Paul Ryan, as prepared for delivery.

Good evening. I’m Congressman Paul Ryan from Janesville, Wisconsin — and Chairman here at the House Budget Committee.

President Obama just addressed a Congressional chamber filled with many new faces. One face we did not see tonight was that of our friend and colleague, Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords of Arizona. We all miss Gabby and her cheerful spirit; and we are praying for her return to the House Chamber.

Earlier this month, President Obama spoke movingly at a memorial event for the six people who died on that violent morning in Tucson. Still, there are no words that can lift the sorrow that now engulfs the families and friends of the fallen.

What we can do is assure them that the nation is praying for them; that, in the words of the Psalmist, the Lord heals the broken-hearted and binds up their wounds; and that over time grace will replace grief.

As Gabby continues to make encouraging progress, we must keep her and the others in our thoughts as we attend to the work now before us.

Tonight, the President focused a lot of attention on our economy in general — and on our deficit and debt in particular.

He was right to do so, and some of his words were reassuring. As chairman of the House Budget Committee, I assure you that we want to work with the President to restrain federal spending.

In one of our first acts in the new majority, House Republicans voted to cut Congress’s own budget. And just today, the House voted to restore the spending discipline that Washington sorely needs.

The reason is simple.

A few years ago, reducing spending was important. Today, it’s imperative. Here’s why.

We face a crushing burden of debt. The debt will soon eclipse our entire economy, and grow to catastrophic levels in the years ahead.

On this current path, when my three children — who are now 6, 7, and 8 years old — are raising their own children, the federal government will double in size, and so will the taxes they pay.

No economy can sustain such high levels of debt and taxation. The next generation will inherit a stagnant economy and a diminished country.

Frankly, it’s one of my greatest concerns as a parent — and I know many of you feel the same way.

Our debt is the product of acts by many presidents and many Congresses over many years. No one person or party is responsible for it.

There is no doubt the President came into office facing a severe fiscal and economic situation.

Unfortunately, instead of restoring the fundamentals of economic growth, he engaged in a stimulus spending spree that not only failed to deliver on its promise to create jobs, but also plunged us even deeper into debt.

The facts are clear: Since taking office, President Obama has signed into law spending increases of nearly 25 percent for domestic government agencies — an 84 percent increase when you include the failed stimulus.

All of this new government spending was sold as “investment.” Yet after two years, the unemployment rate remains above 9% and government has added over $3 trillion to our debt.

Then the President and his party made matters even worse, by creating a new open-ended health care entitlement.

What we already know about the President’s health care law is this: Costs are going up, premiums are rising, and millions of people will lose the coverage they currently have. Job creation is being stifled by all of its taxes, penalties, mandates and fees.

Businesses and unions from around the country are asking the Obama Administration for waivers from the mandates. Washington should not be in the business of picking winners and losers. The President mentioned the need for regulatory reform to ease the burden on American businesses. We agree — and we think his health care law would be a great place to start.

Last week, House Republicans voted for a full repeal of this law, as we pledged to do, and we will work to replace it with fiscally responsible, patient-centered reforms that actually reduce costs and expand coverage.

Health care spending is driving the explosive growth of our debt. And the President’s law is accelerating our country toward bankruptcy.

Our debt is out of control. What was a fiscal challenge is now a fiscal crisis.

We cannot deny it; instead we must, as Americans, confront it responsibly.

And that is exactly what Republicans pledge to do.

Americans are skeptical of both political parties, and that skepticism is justified — especially when it comes to spending. So hold all of us accountable.

In this very room, the House will produce, debate, and advance a budget. Last year — in an unprecedented failure — Congress chose not to pass, or even propose a budget. The spending spree continued unchecked.

We owe you a better choice and a different vision.

Our forthcoming budget is our obligation to you — to show you how we intend to do things differently … how we will cut spending to get the debt down… help create jobs and prosperity … and reform government programs. If we act soon, and if we act responsibly, people in and near retirement will be protected.

These budget debates are not just about the programs of government; they’re also about the purpose of government.

So I’d like to share with you the principles that guide us. They are anchored in the wisdom of the founders; in the spirit of the Declaration of Independence; and in the words of the American Constitution.

They have to do with the importance of limited government; and with the blessing of self-government.

We believe government’s role is both vital and limited — to defend the nation from attack and provide for the common defense … to secure our borders … to protect innocent life … to uphold our laws and Constitutional rights … to ensure domestic tranquility and equal opportunity … and to help provide a safety net for those who cannot provide for themselves.

We believe that the government has an important role to create the conditions that promote entrepreneurship, upward mobility, and individual responsibility.

We believe, as our founders did, that “the pursuit of happiness” depends upon individual liberty; and individual liberty requires limited government.

Limited government also means effective government. When government takes on too many tasks, it usually doesn’t do any of them very well. It’s no coincidence that trust in government is at an all-time low now that the size of government is at an all-time high.

The President and the Democratic Leadership have shown, by their actions, that they believe government needs to increase its size and its reach, its price tag and its power.

Whether sold as “stimulus” or repackaged as “investment,” their actions show they want a federal government that controls too much; taxes too much; and spends too much in order to do too much.

And during the last two years, that is exactly what we have gotten — along with record deficits and debt — to the point where the President is now urging Congress to increase the debt limit.

We believe the days of business as usual must come to an end. We hold to a couple of simple convictions: Endless borrowing is not a strategy; spending cuts have to come first.

Our nation is approaching a tipping point.

We are at a moment, where if government’s growth is left unchecked and unchallenged, America’s best century will be considered our past century. This is a future in which we will transform our social safety net into a hammock, which lulls able-bodied people into lives of complacency and dependency.

Depending on bureaucracy to foster innovation, competitiveness, and wise consumer choices has never worked — and it won’t work now.

We need to chart a new course.

Speaking candidly, as one citizen to another: We still have time … but not much time. If we continue down our current path, we know what our future will be.

Just take a look at what’s happening to Greece, Ireland, the United Kingdom and other nations in Europe. They didn’t act soon enough; and now their governments have been forced to impose painful austerity measures: large benefit cuts to seniors and huge tax increases on everybody.

Their day of reckoning has arrived. Ours is around the corner. That is why we must act now.

Some people will back away from this challenge. But I see this challenge as an opportunity to rebuild what Lincoln called the “central ideas” of the Republic.

We believe a renewed commitment to limited government will unshackle our economy and create millions of new jobs and opportunities for all people, of every background, to succeed and prosper. Under this approach, the spirit of initiative — not political clout — determines who succeeds.

Millions of families have fallen on hard times not because of our ideals of free enterprise — but because our leaders failed to live up to those ideals; because of poor decisions made in Washington and Wall Street that caused a financial crisis, squandered our savings, broke our trust, and crippled our economy.

Today, a similar kind of irresponsibility threatens not only our livelihoods but our way of life.

We need to reclaim our American system of limited government, low taxes, reasonable regulations, and sound money, which has blessed us with unprecedented prosperity. And it has done more to help the poor than any other economic system ever designed. That’s the real secret to job creation — not borrowing and spending more money in Washington.

Limited government and free enterprise have helped make America the greatest nation on earth.

These are not easy times, but America is an exceptional nation. In all the chapters of human history, there has never been anything quite like America. The American story has been cherished, advanced, and defended over the centuries.

And it now falls to this generation to pass on to our children a nation that is stronger, more vibrant, more decent, and better than the one we inherited.

Thank you and good night.

And here’s a link from Douglas Holtz-Eakin, former White House budget director: The World Is Flat . . . and So Is This SOTU Speech

National Review’s Kevin Williamson:

I hate, hate, hate the State of the Union speech, our republic’s annual excursion into the abasing pomp of monarchy. But if you have to transform the president into a New Age totem, I suppose Obama is your guy: He’s largely content-free. If he ever figures out that there is more to being president than giving speeches, our nation will truly be in trouble.

But I liked the fact that our great American Demosthenes stumbled over that story about the Chilean mine rescuers, saying that volunteers sometimes worked “three- or four-hour days.” Three- or four-hour days? Are these government workers? (He corrected himself: He meant three or four days straight.)

Sen. David Vitter’s response:

Louisianians know that bipartisan symbols and pretty speeches are nice, but what they are really looking for is follow-through. If he wants to make America competitive, he should start by ending the de facto moratorium that is stifling Louisiana’s energy economy.

The AP wasn’t crazy about it, either

“WASHINGTON – The ledger did not appear to be adding up Tuesday night when President Barack Obama urged more spending on one hand and a spending freeze on the other. Obama spoke ambitiously of putting money into roads, research, education, efficient cars, high-speed rail and other initiatives in his State of the Union speech. . . . But Obama offered far more examples of where he would spend than where he would cut, and some of the areas he identified for savings are not certain to yield much if anything.”

Says Legal Insurrection: A Million Points Of Trite.

Charles Krauthammer on Fox News: “It was like late Clintonian minimalism about high-speed rail, more spending on roads and solar shingles.”

Also at National Review, Frederick Hess is a little more sanguine: SOTU: Good on Education

And Louisiana GOP chair Roger Villere’s response:

“Once again tonight the president offered lofty rhetoric and carefully crafted turns of phrase, but the American people have not and will not judge him by his oratory or his promises.  Instead, they evaluate his years in office by his actions.  Thus far those actions have increased government spending, increased government control, and have not created jobs.  Much of what was said tonight has been said before, and promises of new spending disguised as ‘investments’  offer little hope that the president takes deficit reduction and fiscal responsibility seriously.

“I, and thousands of Louisianians, are disappointed tonight that the president’s 6,826 word message, including 184 words dedicated to a 2,000 foot hole in Chile, excluded any mention of the millions of gallons of crude oil that spewed into the Gulf last summer from 5,000 feet below the surface.  It is truly a shame that the president did not renew his commitment to the Gulf Coast with changes to a messy claims process and an end to the de-facto moratorium that has cost and continues to threaten the jobs of thousands of Louisianians.  Louisiana families and small businesses heard nothing new to ease their fears that this administration cares nothing for the jobs that fuel our nation’s economic engine.”

Here’s video of Michele Bachmann’s Tea Party response, which wasn’t bad but I agree with a lot of the folks who say it was ill-advised for her to give this tonight. Tomorrow would have been better. But that she offers a response to Obama, period – which is what she’s taking heat for in the first place tonight – is ridiculous. The lady is a member of Congress. She’s entitled to her opinion.

In any event…

Abe Greenwald at Commentary (we liked this one a lot):

Twitter is abuzz with this leaked excerptfrom tonight’s State of the Union address:

Half a century ago, when the Soviets beat us into space with the launch of a satellite called Sputnik¸ we had no idea how we’d beat them to the moon. The science wasn’t there yet. NASA didn’t even exist.

But after investing in better research and education, we didn’t just surpass the Soviets; we unleashed a wave of innovation that created new industries and millions of new jobs.

This is our generation’s Sputnik moment.

So, naturally, Obama is dramatically shrinking our ambitions for space exploration.

Mattie Corrao at Americans For Tax Reform (click here to read the whole thing):

The President’s State of the Union made one thing clear: this administration refuses to learn from the mistakes of its past. Without learning from the following failures, taxpayers will be doomed to repeat the last two years of big government suffocation and economic stagnation.

“Stimulus” by any other name is still a failure.In February of 2009, the President threatened that absent unprecedented infusion of taxpayer dollars under the guise of “stimulus,” unemployment would reach 8.0 percent. Today, after 23 months of “stimulus,” unemployment has teetered above 9 percent for nineteen months.

A Spending freeze is not restraint. In lieu of decreasing the burden of government, the President continues to promote a spending “freeze,” incorporating his administration’s reckless spending binge permanently in spending baselines, and exempting the ballooning bottom lines of mandatory and military spending from any reform.

Herman Cain, 2012 presidential candidate, offers his response…

“While any State of the Union address is certainly a historic event for the American people, President Obama’s speech tonight failed to address the growing and persistent ills that plague our nation, largely symptomatic of an out-of-control government and in need of serious remedy.

President Obama said ‘investment.’ Americans heard ‘more government spending.’ President Obama said ‘job creation.’ We heard ‘…but not in the private sector.’ President Obama said it is time for civility. We heard ‘…for thee, not for me.’

The true state of our union is fragile, but the true will of the people is strong. The people will demand effective economic growth policies which were noticeably absent from the President’s speech.

The American people are taxed too much and too often. The jobs-killing health care overhaul saddles businesses and taxpayers with even costlier medical bills. Our national debt caused by unbridled spending will be an agonizing weight on the backs of our children and grandchildren. And the federal government is circumventing its Constitutional limits at nearly every turn.

It is my most sincere hope that President Obama takes heed of the warning signaled by voters across America on November 2, 2010: we are tired of ‘business as usual’ with new rhetoric and only with bold leadership based on Constitutional principles can this country get back on the road to prosperity.”

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