Review: Tea Party Rebuttal to the State of the Union Address, Michele Bachmann

I am frankly a little bothered by Rep. Michele Bachmann’s assumption that she could just throw up a rebuttal, but a rebuttal it is, and I’ll review it. I especially find this somewhat disconcerting in light of former GOP Chairman Michael Steele’s claim that there is no civil war in the GOP. Really? Maybe not yet, but the fact that Rep. Bachmann offered a rebuttal outside the standard format despite Rep. Ryan getting the nod to do so would suggest otherwise.

Oh, and in the interest of full disclosure, I’m an admitted admirer of much of what the Tea Party stands for. I’m not a card-carrying member, but many of the basic fundamentals are principles that ring true to me. Unfortunately, like any party, they are damaged and maligned by the few who truly are incapable of rational and reasonable thought, discussion, and compromise.

  • Speech: Tea Party Rebuttal to the State of the Union Address
  • Speaker: Rep. Michele Bachmann (R, MN)
  • Date: January 25, 2011

And away we go….

Two years ago, when Barack Obama became our president, unemployment was 7.8 percent and our national debt stood at what seemed like a staggering $10.6 trillion dollars. We wondered whether the president would cut spending, reduce the deficit and implement real job-creating policies. Unfortunately, the president’s strategy for recovery was to spend a trillion dollars on a failed stimulus program, fueled by borrowed money.

The White House promised us that all the spending would keep unemployment under 8 percent. Well not only did that plan fail to deliver, but within three months the national jobless rate spiked to 9.4 percent. It hasn’t been lower for 20 straight months. While the government grew, we lost more than 2 million jobs.

Can’t say I disagree, but this already has the tone of an attack piece.

After the $700 billion bailout, the trillion-dollar stimulus, and the massive budget bill with over 9,000 earmarks, many of you implored Washington to please stop spending money that we don’t have. But instead of cutting, we saw an unprecedented explosion of government spending and debt. It was unlike anything we have seen in the history of the country.

Well, deficits were unacceptably high under President Bush, but they exploded under President Obama’s direction, growing the national debt by an astounding $3.1 trillion.

First, I’m glad that she pointed out that deficits were bad under President Bush (really any deficit is bad in my opinion). Second, I’m glad that she pointed out that while the Republicans certainly have no leg to stand on, the Democrats don’t either. Remember, over 25% of ALL debt owed by this nation came under the pen of President Obama.

Third, why all the focus on earmarks? Countless studies have shown that earmarks account for an incredible small portion of our problems, and while they are an issue, this focus is misleading. It leaves us with the impression that resolving the earmarks would somehow resolve the deficit and national debt. Not true. It’d help (a very small amount), but it would not resolve anything.

Oh, and she’s right that the growth in government spending was stunning.

Well, what did we buy? Instead of a leaner, smarter government, we bought a bureaucracy that now tells us which light bulbs to buy, and which will put 16,500 IRS agents in charge of policing President Obama’s health care bill.

Obamacare mandates and penalties may even force many job creators to just stop offering health insurance altogether, unless of course yours is one of the more-than-222 privileged companies or unions that has already received a government waiver under Obamacare. In the end, unless we fully repeal Obamacare, a nation that currently enjoys the world’s finest health care might be forced to rely on government-run coverage. That could have a devastating impact on our national debt for even generations to come.

Again, can’t say I disagree with the sentiment. As I pointed out in my review of Rep. Ryan’s rebuttal, a full repeal of Obamacare is not a winning solution. At this point, we should be reaching for continued refining and improvement of the bill. We need health care reform of some kind, but a full repeal is not reform.

I also have to admit that I find a certain discomfort with the Obamacare waivers. I’m not fully aware of all that entails, so I’ll refrain from a strong critical analysis, but I’m bothered by any exemptions or waivers to this program. My basic reasoning? If it were really that good of a deal, why are waivers needed?

For two years, President Obama made promises just like the ones we heard him make tonight. Yet still, we have high unemployment, devalued housing prices and the cost of gasoline is skyrocketing.

And this really strikes at the heart of my discomfort with President Obama and his speech. I really like his speech, and I was serious that if he actually works through those plans and proposals, I’ll certainly put him at the top of my ballot. However, there is a strong and consistent lack of fulfillment on most of his promises. I wouldn’t necessarily pin the broken promises on things like high unemployment, housing prices, and the cost of gas, though. My primary concerns are that the promises of a new system of government died the minute he gave his Inaugural Speech. The promises of transparency were DOA as well. Of this is born my frustration with the government, not housing prices.

We need to start making things again in this country, and we can do that by reducing the tax and regulatory burdens on job creators. America will have the highest corporate tax rate in the world. Think about that. Look no further to see why jobs are moving overseas.

Of course that is part of the answer, but help us understand what you will do. While I agree that the corporate tax rate is a huge problem, what are you going to change?

This, in general, is a huge problem with any of these speeches: lots of ideas, few specifics. I’m okay with some general statements, but if you’re just spouting party lines… go home. And that applies to anyone.

I believe that we are in the early days of a history-making turn in America…. Because of you, Congress is responding and we are just starting to undo the damage that’s been done the last few years. Because we believe in lower taxes. We believe in a limited view of government, and exceptionalism in America. And I believe that America is the indispensable nation of the world. Just the creation of this nation itself was a miracle. Who’s to say that we can’t see a miracle again?

Yep. I think we’re at the crossroads of history as well. I think the opportunity is there as well. What I don’t agree with is the assumption that the last few years of “damage” were any worse than the damage of any of the other previous years. This won’t win me any fans, but I actually really liked President Bush, even in the later years. Sure he had his issues, but I honestly believed and still believe that he was a better choice than the alternatives. But I admit his mistakes as well. I admit that returning to late 2008 isn’t a solution to the ills of this country, and I think we’d be hard pressed to find many who truly believed that.

We will proclaim liberty throughout the land.

Sigh… If I have any problem with the Tea Party, it is that. They honestly come across as if they and only they had the solutions and power to create liberty, peace, freedom. And I say that as a warm supporter of their principles in general.

If the two-party system is dangerous to this nation, and I firmly believe it is, a one-party system is more so, and I get the feeling sometimes that that is what the Tea Party is advocating. Sorry, but I can’t accept that. Frankly, it’s the single-party dominance that has headlined so much of the past ten years that has caused many of the problems we face. Obamacare? The result of a single-party system. Wars in Iraq and Afghanistan? Largely enabled by a single-party system. Failed stimulus? Tax reform failures?

Any time you have a single party dictating the conversation and direction of the nation as we’ve had for basically eight of the last ten years, you cannot guarantee the balances that are essential for the progression of the ideals of this nation. That is especially true when you have the super-majority we saw in the Senate recently, and nothing highlights those failures better than Obamacare. For the Tea Party to even slightly hint at the idea that they’d be that successful in that situation should be at least a little frightening to all of us. I pray it never happens.

And that’s the speech.

Not bad overall, but I still question her position to offer it. Much like the other speeches, it lacked a lot of real substance and dealt mostly in platitudes and promises–pipe dreams as I called them in my review of President Obama’s speech. Adding Rep. Bachmann’s speech to the other two, President Obama is still the clear winner in both substance, quality, and get-up-ism*.

get-up-ism–A word I just now coined that means the ability to inspire and motivate a group of people to action. I’m pretty sure there is actually a word that means just that already in the language, but inspiration didn’t quite cut it for me and neither did motivation. I’m quite willing to consider any recommendations you might have.

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2 Responses to Review: Tea Party Rebuttal to the State of the Union Address, Michele Bachmann

  1. Vance says:

    Her and the Tea Party’s intent was probably trying to distance itself from the Republican umbrella. To sound more like a third party, which is hard now that Republican’s have taken a limited government tone since Obama won, and that makes them sound the same.

  2. daveloveless says:

    Probably true. I have to wonder how much longer the Tea Party will continue to exist as a fractious inner-sect of the Repulican Party.

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