Review: Republican Rebuttal to the State of the Union

As promised, here’s the Republican rebuttal of Obama’s State of the Union. This address was offered by Gov. Mitch Daniels, and, as always, follows my typical format.

Coming up: rebuttals from the Libertarian party. I will also try to find rebuttals from other parties, but they don’t always do that. We’ll see.

The President did not cause the economic and fiscal crises that continue in America tonight. But he was elected on a promise to fix them, and he cannot claim that the last three years have made things anything but worse: the percentage of Americans with a job is at the lowest in decades. One in five men of prime working age, and nearly half of all persons under 30, did not go to work today.

Here come a whole series of quotes…. Obama was elected on the premise of change and hope. I still laugh every time I see that “How’s the whole hopey, changey thing working out?” bumper sticker. With that being said, Gov. Daniels is correct that Obama–in terms of his campaign goals–has not been a successful president. I’ll leave it for history to decide is overall effectiveness, but on that criteria, Daniels is right.

And may I just say that that last sentence is a truly scary statistic? If we want to talk about future impact, that is a substantial number of people who should be building and growing in the prime of life that are not. This will have far reaching consequences over the next several decades as these people continue to find themselves playing catch up.

In three short years, an unprecedented explosion of spending, with borrowed money, has added trillions to an already unaffordable national debt. And yet, the President has put us on a course to make it radically worse in the years ahead. The federal government now spends one of every four dollars in the entire economy; it borrows one of every three dollars it spends. No nation, no entity, large or small, public or private, can thrive, or survive intact, with debts as huge as ours.

I was admittedly surprised that Obama didn’t address the debt and deficit more than he did. Personally, I agree with Daniels. Our nation has many issues facing it–the debt is just one, but it is a substantial 900-pound gorilla sitting in the room and Obama and many others can’t seem to see it.

As Republicans our first concern is for those waiting tonight to begin or resume the climb up life’s ladder. We do not accept that ours will ever be a nation of haves and have nots; we must always be a nation of haves and soon to haves.

I know there will be some that take exception to Daniels turn of phrase at the end there, but he’s right. We are a nation that has come to expect instant gratification and instant success. We grow up in our parents’ home with all the comforts of life and leave that home with the goal of immediately replacing it. Do we not get that it took dad 30 years of work to achieve that?

The idea of being a soon-to-have is correct. It puts in perspective the eventual success that comes from hard work and long-term commitments to family, to God, to country.

Oh, and just to be clear… Mom and Dad? Stop sending junior to college on your dime. Stop giving your kids a “leg up.” There’s a very real difference between supporting your kids and enabling them. Supporting them allows them to grow and earn it on their own. Enabling them creates dependencies and expectations that just are not valid.

The routes back to an America of promise, and to a solvent America that can pay its bills and protect its vulnerable, start in the same place. The only way up for those suffering tonight, and the only way out of the dead end of debt into which we have driven, is a private economy that begins to grow and create jobs, real jobs, at a much faster rate than today.

Earlier, Daniels mentioned that Obama’s plan of creating a middle class of government workers was a failure. This is the opposite. Our government has never been larger, and that has to change. Vibrant economies are private economies that can grow and build based on real successes and not just the mandated success that comes with a government check.

The extremism that stifles the development of homegrown energy, or cancels a perfectly safe pipeline that would employ tens of thousands, or jacks up consumer utility bills for no improvement in either human health or world temperature, is a pro-poverty policy. It must be replaced by a passionate pro-growth approach that breaks all ties and calls all close ones in favor of private sector jobs that restore opportunity for all and generate the public revenues to pay our bills.

And there’s the pipeline issue…. Again, I agree with Daniels. I think the pipeline should have been approved.

Decades ago, for instance, we could afford to send millionaires pension checks and pay medical bills for even the wealthiest among us. Now, we can’t, so the dollars we have should be devoted to those who need them most.

Daniels is speaking about Medicare and Social Security. Again, I completely agree with this. A few things I’ve never understood is why the Social Security tax is capped up to a certain income. You only pay that tax until you reach roughly $106,000 (I think). Why does it end?

Second, why is there no means testing in place for Social Security? If I have $40MM in the bank, do I really need a $750 check from the government?

Third, why can’t I opt out? Please…. You can even keep my employer contribution for Social Security, but let me opt out and create my own plan. Sure… mandate that I still have to save at least an equal amount to what I would have paid. That’s fine, but let me opt out.

No feature of the Obama Presidency has been sadder than its constant efforts to divide us, to curry favor with some Americans by castigating others. As in previous moments of national danger, we Americans are all in the same boat. If we drift, quarreling and paralyzed, over a Niagara of debt, we will all suffer, regardless of income, race, gender, or other category. If we fail to shift to a pro-jobs, pro-growth economic policy, there will never be enough public revenue to pay for our safety net, national security, or whatever size government we decide to have.

And I have to agree. One of my most consistent complaints about Obama has been the whining that “I’m trying to reach across the aisle!” No, he’s not. He has been more divisive than any other president. He’s treated his presidency like a populist poll. Sorry, Mr. President. This isn’t your high school prom. Your decisions have real impacts on me and my family, and up until now you’ve only listened to your exclusive club of left-wing elites while pandering to the crowd that you’re actually working with everyone.

I promised you three years ago that if you would actually work across the aisles you would have my vote. Well, you don’t have it. Of course… Gingrich could win the GOP nomination, and then I’d consider because, well, Gingrich would make your paltry efforts actually worthy of the peace prize you so undeservedly got. Anyway….

In word and deed, the President and his allies tell us that we just cannot handle ourselves in this complex, perilous world without their benevolent protection. Left to ourselves, we might pick the wrong health insurance, the wrong mortgage, the wrong school for our kids; why, unless they stop us, we might pick the wrong light bulb!


And that’s the end.

That was actually a remarkably short rebuttal compared to normal, but it was full of strong statements which I obviously agree with. I’m not a republican by any means (I’m an independent), but I lean that direction in my ideologies.

Overall thoughts? I’m not quite sure. I preferred Daniels speech to Obama’s. Obama had more ideas actually drawn out, but Daniels had more to add in the department of approaches. Where Obama called for unity, Daniels did so in a fourth of the words and with twice the effectiveness (for me). At the same time, Daniels did mention that there is a failure of belief on the part of America that we can actually work this out. I admit to feeling that way sometimes.

I’ve become remarkably pessimistic at times, which is odd for me, especially when thinking about this country. I guess I’m just not sure it’s possible to break the cycle anymore. We simply don’t have the leadership in Washington anymore. Of course, the answer is simply to step forward on our own levels, and I do. Will. I may be dissatisfied with Washington, but I refuse to let Washington determine the fate of my local system and my community.

Maybe I’m not so pessimistic about it all after all….

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