WASHINGTON, D.C. – Utah’s congressmen released statements in response to President Obama’s State of the Union Address. Below are those issued by Congressmen Chris Stewart, Orrin Hatch and Mike Lee.
Rep. Chris Stewart
The President missed an opportunity tonight. Rather than come to Congress with realistic proposals about how to restore American leadership in the world and increase domestic economic growth, Mr. Obama delivered another speech filled with proposals that ask for higher taxes and a bigger government. Seven times he has come to report on the State of the Union and seven times he has asked for higher taxes.
The President’s speech severely undervalued the importance of our national security, and it’s unfortunate that with the growth of terrorist extremist groups, he is more focused on creating expensive government programs which will only increase our country’s debt.
The American people elected the largest Republican majorities in generations in November. I hoped the President would listen to the American people and work with, not around the Republican controlled Congress to enact real tax reform and national priorities.
Stewart also released a video message which may be viewed here.
Sen. Orrin Hatch
Tonight, the President missed a real opportunity to put forward a bold economic vision that meets the demands of the American people and puts an aggressive jobs agenda center stage. Rather than outlining pro-growth policies that would provide more opportunity for hard-working families and job creators that have been left behind in the Obama economy, the President slipped back into the role of Campaigner-In-Chief.
From overreaching regulations to higher taxes that fuel more government spending to premature veto threats and a refusal to enforce laws he doesn’t agree with, President Obama’s unilateralism and refusal to set politics aside further demonstrates his unwillingness to work together and reach lasting solutions for the American people. Our country deserves something other and better than the President’s politics of division. It’s time for all of us—Republicans and Democrats alike—to come together and unite behind an agenda that will move America forward.
A $320 billion tax hike to fuel more government spending is not going to promote a healthy economy or improve the standard of living for working Americans and their families. Calling for expanding the death tax and raising the rates on capital gains, like the president did tonight, makes clear this White House is more about redistribution and populist class warfare than about actual bipartisan tax reform. In fact, if anything, these misguided proposals would only further clutter up the tax code and make it more confusing for taxpayers. By putting poll-tested politics ahead of sound policy embraced by both parties, the President regrettably distanced himself from achieving tenable bipartisan results.
Republicans stand ready to act and implement smart policies that will allow hard-working taxpayers to keep more of the money that they earned, spur capital investment, and create a better environment for job growth. We can achieve these goals through a bipartisan remake of the code that creates a simpler, fairer, more efficient tax system that encourages savings and investment and puts American job creators at a competitive advantage. I hope the President comes to the table with a more serious proposal.
The President’s strong call for the renewal of job-creating Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) is welcome but long overdue. Swift action on TPA will jumpstart a robust trade agenda that will help America gain greater access to growing overseas markets and hold our trading partners accountable through the negotiation and enactment of strong trade agreements.
To have a healthy economy, the United States must engage with other nations through trade. Ninety-five percent of the world’s consumers live outside the United States. These potential customers account for 92 percent of global economic growth and 80 percent of the world’s purchasing power. American workers need fair access to those markets. Democrats in Congress can now either work with the President and Republicans to pass TPA and empower our country to compete or they can throw up more roadblocks and cast uncertainty on our country’s trade agenda.
The President’s failure to acknowledge how Obamacare has restricted patient choice, wasted taxpayer dollars, and hampered job creation further illustrates how out of touch he is from working American families. Make no mistake, Obamacare is not healthy for taxpayers, patients, or the economy. I will continue to work with my colleagues on bipartisan solutions to strike away Obamacare’s provisions that both parties see as egregious and replace them with patient-centered reforms that will lower costs and increase high-quality care.
On Social Security:
Despite calls for urgent action to seriously confront Social Security’s financial challenges from Social Security’s trustees, which include members of the President’s own Administration, it is disappointing that the President still refuses to engage on the issue. With Social Security facing $25 trillion in unfunded liabilities, the failure of the President to even engage with Congress in dialogue is a true disappointment.
Building a Strong Middle Class:
If the President is serious about helping middle-class families, I’m eager to work across the aisle on legislation that will help build the foundation for broadly shared prosperity. That’s why I’ve championed regulatory reforms like the SCRUB Act, which targets outdated and ineffective regulations that are holding back job creation and weighing down family budgets. Based on principles embraced by President Obama, it’s a powerful, fair, and bipartisan means to reduce the unnecessary costs that the federal government imposes on Americans.
The President’s refusal to enforce existing immigration laws runs contrary to longstanding constitutional norms, as he himself previously acknowledged. Unlike the President, I remain committed to the tough work of formulating long-term legislative solutions for our broken immigration system. I hope that the President will embrace my bipartisan, high-skilled immigration bill, which is exactly the sort of common-sense, measure we need to help rebuild trust and cooperation on this vitally important issue.
On National Security:
Despite the President’s rush to withdraw from our commitments and responsibilities abroad, we face a world full of dangers. The expanding threat of radical Islamic terror in Europe and the Middle East, Russia’s growing belligerence, and North Korea’s continued provocations shows that America’s enemies aren’t on the run after all. The President must level with the American people about these threats and articulate a meaningful strategy to keep America safe.
On Innovation and Technology:
President Obama has a long history of taking the tech community for granted by bowing to union bosses and trial lawyers on issues such as high-skilled immigration and patent troll legislation. Many of these issues represent areas in which a great number of Republicans and Democrats actually agree. If the President is serious about creating jobs, we should start by working together on such issues where there is bipartisan, bicameral agreement.
While the President’s long-awaited proposals on cyber-threat information sharing are a step in the right direction, we need a comprehensive strategy. Such a plan would include providing incentives to encourage the private sector to work with us in this effort. It must also strike the right balance between protecting our nation’s computing infrastructure and protecting individual privacy rights. We also need unity of effort in our approach, rather than our current patchwork system spread across several government agencies. In addition, we need to make sure our strategy is correct. I look forward to helping address the numerous issues involved in such a strategy through legislation in the Senate.
The President also spoke about the importance of protecting student data privacy. I look forward to him working with us on my bipartisan ‘Protecting Student Privacy Act,’ which will accomplish much of what he has called for tonight.
The President’s proposal on higher education would give the Department of Education greater control over community colleges in participating states, while also rerouting funding away from helping low-income students attend a variety of higher-ed institutions, beyond community college. The President’s price tag for this proposal is $60 billion, begging the question of where he would get that money and who would ultimately be missing out. We must do better for those seeking better education.
Much of our recent economic progress is related to the recent drop in gas prices. The President should work with Congress to ensure abundance, affordability, and security in our energy future. He can start by allowing the Keystone XL Pipeline to move forward.
Sen. Mike Lee
Hello. I’m Senator Mike Lee.
In the State of the Union tonight, the president talked a lot about the challenges we face as a country, and I appreciate that he finally acknowledges that the middle class is being squeezed.
But unfortunately, he has chosen to double down on the failed policies that have prevented so many Utahns and hardworking Americans from getting ahead in the first place.
We know these are not serious proposals because the president is not serious about getting them through Congress. For him, it’s all 2016 partisan politics now, and Republicans shouldn’t waste time debating the merits of the president’s political talking points.
Instead, Republicans must take advantage of the opportunity the American people have given us. We should be developing and proposing real solutions that address America’s growing Opportunity Deficit.
We have anti-poverty initiatives, tax reform that works for working families, innovative new models of higher education, and a number of other solutions that will create jobs and improve our economy.
So as the President tries to divide Americans and distract them from the failures of his administration, we shouldn’t take the bait. Instead, Republicans are going to move forward on a positive agenda. I look forward to the opportunity the American people have given us to meet the challenge of our time.
Lee also released a video message which may be viewed here.
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