Ky.'s congressional Republicans find different ways to express 'disappointment' with Obama

02/12/2013 09:50 PM

The Republican response to President Barack Obama’s fifth State of the Union Address was heavy on “disappointment.”

U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell, Kentucky’s senior senator at the Senate GOP leader, opened his statement by flatly saying he was “disappointed.” And U.S. Rep. Hal Rogers, the Somerset Republican who chairs the House Appropriations Committee, called the speech “another tired rendition.”

(They joined Speaker John Boehner who tweeted his official response to the speech was that he was “disappointed President Obama offered little more than more of the same that has failed to put Americans back to work.” And Sen. John McCain tweeted that he was “disappointed but not surprised” Obama didn’t mention the 60,000 civilians killed in Syria.)

Beyond all the broad disappointment, freshman Rep. Andy Barr, R-Lexington, criticized the president for failing to address specifics of how to reduce federal spending without implementing the meat-cleaver effects of the sequester.

Across-the-board federal spending cuts worth $2.1 trillion over 10 years are set to take place in March. And Barr warned in a letter to Republican House leaders that it could affect rural hospitals and the Blue Grass Army Depot in the 6th Congressional District he represents. The depot is relying on federal defense funds to demilitarize chemical weapons stored there.

In a three-minute video response to Obama’s speech, Barr said Congress and the president must implement the $2.1 trillion cuts over 10 years but with a “intelligent setting of priorities.”

“The only way we’re going to achieve a sustained recovery that puts American people back to work is through real spending reform, a sensible ordering of priorities and tax reform that lowers the burden on hard-working Americans,” Barr said. Here’s the full video his office sent out:

U.S. Sen. Rand Paul’s tea party response

U.S. Sen. Rand Paul gave the tea party’s response, which wasn’t carried on the networks or cable news channels.

Paul criticized Obama on both foreign and domestic policy.

“Big government is not your friend. The president offers you free stuff but his policies keep you poor,” he said of Obama’s economic approach. “… Only through lower taxes, less regulation and more freedom will the economy begin to grow again.”

Paul also has sharply criticized the president for being able to authorize drone strikes on American citizens abroad.

“We will stand up against excessive government power wherever we see it. We cannot and will not allow any president to act as if he were a king,” Paul said.

Economic math from division

McConnell, meanwhile, said in a statement he was most disappointed that Obama failed to lay out details of how to go about curbing rising costs of Medicare and shoring up Social Security.

“I happen to be one of those who thinks divided government is the ideal time to solve our nation’s problems. For whatever reason, the President doesn’t agree with that. He seems to want everybody to think that Republicans are all up here with their daggers drawn all the time. It’s absolute nonsense. We’ve got serious problems to deal with, especially spending and debt. Every single one of my Republican colleagues wants to do something to address those problems.”

Jobs, jobs, jobs

The president proposed raising the minimum wage to $9 per hour. And he spent the first part of his speech outlining the need for more job creation and innovation.

U.S. Rep. Brett Guthrie, R-Bowling Green, said that was the part he could agree with.

“In addition to shoring up our fiscal situation, I agree with the President that we must place a focus on jobs. Millions of Americans still struggle to find employment, and through job training and investment in a strong workforce we can help put people back to work in better, higher-paying jobs.

The Ky. Democratic response to the Republican response

Just as predictable as the Republican frustration with the president’s address was the response from Kentucky’s lone Democrat in the Congressional delegation.

U.S. Rep. John Yarmuth, D-Louisville, alluded to several of Obama’s proposals: to work with states to fund preschool for all, make higher education more affordable and invest in research and technology innovation.

“Tonight, the President offered a compelling vision to build on our nation’s economic progress through continued investments that will strengthen our middle class. Rebuilding our crumbling infrastructure, revitalizing manufacturing, and providing the next generation with access to a high-quality education are not only critical to the Louisville economy – they are vital to the future of Louisville families.”


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