On SOTU: McConnell: Pedestrian, Liberal Boilerplat" | Politico: Distinctively Retro
The Senate reconvened today and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) has indicated he’d like to take up the nomination of former Sen. Chuck Hagel to be Secretary of Defense this week and could move to it today. Hagel is not a good choice for this position for varied reasons.
Yesterday, the Senate voted 78-22 to pass S. 47, the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act, as amended. Prior to final passage, the Senate voted 93-5 to adopt an amendment from Sen. Pat Leahy (D-VT) extending a law that combats sex trafficking, 100-0 to adopt an amendment from Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH) that allows trafficking victims to get assistance from certain grant programs, 46-53 against an amendment from Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) that would have directed the Justice Department to consolidate or eliminate duplicative programs, and 43-57 against another amendment from Sen. Coburn that would have expanded STD testing for sexual assault victims.
Yesterday the House passed by "voice vote": H.R. 316H.R. 235 — "To amend the Public Health Service Act to provide grants to States to streamline State requirements and procedures for veterans with military emergency medical training to become civilian emergency medical technicians."
The House is considering today H.R. 592 — "To amend the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act. It will also vote on H.R. 267 — "To improve hydro-power, and for other purposes."
Reacting to President Obama’s State of the Union speech last night, Senate GOP Leader Mitch McConnell said this morning, “To me at least, the occasion cried out for bold and courageous leadership from a re-elected President who has run his last campaign it called for a President who was willing to stare down America's challenges, reject the easy choices, and step outside his political comfort zone — to unite a deeply divided public behind a common goal. Sadly, history will record no such moment. An opportunity to bring the country together instead became another retread of lip service and liberalism. . . . Following four years of this President’s unwillingness to challenge liberal dogma, we got more of the same. . . . In short . . . last night's speech was pedestrian, liberal boilerplate that any Democratic lawmaker could have given at any time in recent memory.”
Indeed, Politico called it “a brand with a distinctively retro flavor — ‘Democrat Classic,’” noting that “Obama rolled out a series of vintage proposals” and writing, “it marked the latest step in a clear effort by Obama to” move the country’s politics to the left. The speech was chock-full of “new spending proposals,” “delighting liberals and eliciting charges of overreach by Republicans, who are unlikely to pass much of what Obama laid on the table Tuesday night.”
Among the problems with the president’s speech were its complete lack of any mention of the Keystone XL pipeline , which this administration continues to stonewall, despite the fact it is supported by many Democrats in Congress and a number labor unions, who have said things like “the Keystone XL project begins and ends with one word: JOBS… Throughout America's Heartland, the Keystone Pipeline represents the prospect for 20,000 immediate jobs . . . .”
Obama’s calls for ever more government spending bring to mind how unsuccessful or wasteful stimulus spending has been over the past four years, with debacles like bankrupt energy companies Solyndra and A123, and mind-boggling federal projects like repairing cracks in tennis courts, mapping radioactive rabbit feces, and studying the mating decisions of female cactus bugs.
And despite the president’s insistence that “[n]othing I'm proposing tonight should increase our deficit by a single dime,” it’s hard to take that seriously given his prior pledges on the deficit, like that he’d cut it in half by the end of his first term (in other words, by last month).
It’s also worth recalling that President Obama also assured Americans that his unpopular health care law wouldn’t cost more money, despite the CBO saying just last week that “spending is projected to grow rapidly when provisions of the Affordable Care Act are fully implemented.” Obama even declared last night that “the Affordable Care Act is helping to slow the growth of health care costs.” But of course, the law is raising the cost of premiums for families and is raising costs for employers, resulting in layoffs and fewer jobs.
As Leader McConnell said, “Gun control, cap-and-trade, tax increases, and spending programs are exactly what we’ve come to expect from a liberal President who seems perfectly content to preside over a divided country and a stagnant economy. . . . I’m especially disappointed he chose not to seriously address the transcendent issue of our time, which is finding a way to control our spiraling debt before it controls us. Because if we don’t do that, we won’t be able to leave our children the kind of country our parents left us."
Senator John Boozman (R-AR) sumarized Obama's SOTU as follows, "President Obama did not bring any new, specific ideas to the table to address the biggest issue facing our nation — jobs." Boozman also addressed the issues of sequestration, immigration, Obamacare and gun control.
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