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GOP faults Obama speech for liberalism, hostility

By Eric Werner

Associated Press

LAST UPDATED: 08:13 a.m. HST, Feb 13, 2013

WASHINGTON » Republicans charged today that President Barack Obama delivered a State of the Union address studded with tired liberal notions and campaign-style hostility and said the speech did little to ease partisan tensions over issues like gigantic budget deficits.

"An opportunity to bring together the country instead became another retread of lip service and liberalism," Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said on the chamber floor, arguing that Obama offered little more than "gimmicks and tax hikes."

"Last night's speech was a pedestrian liberal boilerplate that any Democratic lawmaker could have given at any time in recent history," McConnell said.

Obama used his speech Tuesday night to call for action on a sweeping agenda that included the economy, guns, immigration, taxes and climate change. New initiatives included proposals to improve preschool programs and voting, boost manufacturing and research and development, raise the minimum wage and lower energy use.

"It is our unfinished task to make sure that this government works on behalf of the many and not just the few," the president said.

His remarks seemed to have little persuasive effect on Republicans who control the House and hold enough votes to stall legislation in the Senate and believe that government helps best by getting out of the way.

House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, the GOP's vice presidential candidate last fall, said today that Obama's leadership style stands in the way of bipartisan efforts to resolve problems like the ballooning deficit.

"He seems to always be in campaign mode, where he treats people in the other party as enemies rather than partners," the Wisconsin Republican said in an interview on "CBS This Morning."

Ryan was asked if he supported House Speaker John Boehner's remark Tuesday that he didn't believe Obama "has the guts" to stand up to liberals in his own party on spending cuts.

"That's why the congressman makes remarks like that," Ryan said of Boehner, R-Ohio.

The morning-after comments came as Obama was getting ready to take off on a three-state trip, starting in North Carolina, to sell voters on the programs he outlined. The president had hit the road frequently in campaign-style trips in December to argue the approach he favored for avoiding the so-called "fiscal cliff."

Republican critics have said the president should stay home and focus his attention on dealing directly with Congress on these issues.

In the formal Republican response to Obama's address, Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., said, "More government isn't going to help you get ahead. It's going to hold you back. More government isn't going to create more opportunities. It's going to limit them."

"And more government isn't going to inspire new ideas, new businesses and new private sector jobs. It's going to create uncertainty," said Rubio, a rising star in the party.

Uncompromising and aggressive, Obama pressed his agenda on social issues and economic ones, declaring himself determined to intervene to right income inequality and boost the middle class. He called on Congress to pass comprehensive immigration reform with a pathway to citizenship for 11 million illegal immigrants, far-reaching gun control measures and a climate bill to cut greenhouse gas emissions. He threatened to go around Congress with executive actions on climate change if it fails to act.

But Obama cannot count on willing partners on those issues, any one of which could tie Congress in knots for months with no guarantee of success. Gun control, which Obama made a focus of his speech, faces dim prospects on Capitol Hill. The prospect for immigration legislation is better, but no sure thing. Climate change legislation is given no chance of success.

And Obama addressed relatively briefly the looming fiscal crises confronting the nation and inevitably sucking up oxygen on Capitol Hill — the deep automatic spending cuts or "sequester" to take effect March 1, followed by the government running out of money to fund federal agencies March 27. He made clear he will continue to press for the rich to pay more in taxes, a position Republicans have rejected.

Republicans, meanwhile, made clear they're in little mood to cooperate.

"We are only weeks away from the devastating consequences of the president's sequester, and he failed to offer the cuts needed to replace it," Boehner said in a statement. "In the last election, voters chose divided government which offers a mandate only to work together to find common ground. The president, instead, appears to have chosen a go-it-alone approach to pursue his liberal agenda."

Earlier Tuesday, in a meeting with television correspondents and anchors, Boehner, R-Ohio, said immigration is about the only item on Obama's list that has a chance of passing this year. He said the president is more interested in getting a Democratic majority in both chambers next year.

Obama did reiterate his willingness to tackle entitlement changes, particularly on Medicare, though he has ruled out increasing the eligibility age for the popular benefit program for seniors.

"Those of us who care deeply about programs like Medicare must embrace the need for modest reforms — otherwise, our retirement programs will crowd out the investments we need for our children and jeopardize the promise of a secure retirement for future generations," he said.

"But we can't ask senior citizens and working families to shoulder the entire burden of deficit reduction while asking nothing more from the wealthiest and most powerful."

On immigration, a bipartisan group of negotiators in the Senate is working to craft legislation embracing Obama's call for a pathway to citizenship for illegal immigrants but making such a path contingent on first securing the border, a linkage Obama has not supported.

But there's no guarantee the Senate bipartisan plan will find favor with the full Senate or the House.

Associated Press writers Julie Pace and Stephen Ohlemacher contributed to this report.

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OldDiver wrote:
And we are suppose to take the right wing corporate controlled Republican party seriously? The guys who brought us the Great George Bush Depression? The guys who have stood in the way of economic progress in a effort to defeat President Obama's re-election bid? Nope, the American public isn't buying it.
on February 13,2013 | 07:58AM
dontbelieveinmyths wrote:
Well, if it wasn't for George Washington................OD, your blaming of Bush for everything is starting to sound as ridiculous as me blaming George. On a side note, if it wasn't for the recession, my investments wouldn't have made as much. Buy low, sell high. You can't buy at the artificial low if not for dips in the economy.
on February 13,2013 | 08:11AM
serious wrote:
I agree with you------myths, the Chris Dodd, Barney Frank recession is winding down. The President is still harping on the THEM and US. And, I might say I also agree on the investment side--buy the dips!!!!
on February 13,2013 | 09:23AM
serious wrote:
AND, what does HE do? Hides on AF ONE and not stay home to face the issues.
on February 13,2013 | 09:35AM
Pacej001 wrote:
The State of the union: Well, it's a relief that, according to the prez,. things are so much better economically. (I thought the percentage of working age americans unable to find work was at its lowest in 30 years).------ And those Republican meanies who acceped his idea for the sequester. Shame on them. ---------And wow, the deficit has ALREADY been reduced by $2.5 trillion (seems like these numbers reflect the reduction in the EXPECTED GROWTH of future expenses, not real spending cuts since spending has actually increased 14% since 2008. And I'm guessing the "cuts" also include ending the Iraq and Afghan wars, that we were going to end anyway. Say, why not claim the savings since 1946 from not fighting WWII and erase the entire debt!) -------And more good news. Obamacare may have lowered the RATE OF INCREASE of medical insurance costs. Break out the bubbly. (Meanwhile, the taxes, fines, penalties of Obamacare, and the job killing impact will first be felt this year and the next.) ------ Climate change, version 2.0: (well that worked out well during the first term, but now that the prez is reinvigorated, prepare for skyrocketing utility costs again, one of the few campaign promises he's kept). Oh yeah, and the whole speech was filled with great ideas that cost money, offer no substantial rational for success, and just result in a larger more intrusive government. (Great, when will this thing we call the Federal government get so top heavy that it just falls over? Or has that already happened given that we've not had a national budget in four years which is the equivalent of giving our teenage sone a case of beer, a credit card, the car keys and saying "knock your self out".) Did the speech sound familiar? It should. Sounds like four more like the last four. That turned out well, didn't it.
on February 13,2013 | 08:12AM
Waterman2 wrote:
Same old speech, same old diversions, same old lies. Sad that a man who speaks so well just cant face reality.
on February 13,2013 | 09:53AM
kahuku01 wrote:
As usual, the republicans responded with negative remarks without justifying their remarks. Republican politicians always responded negatively and it has become the trend regardless if the president said that the sky is blue or the grass is green and they would say no, the sky is gray and the grass is brown. Marco Rubio responses were worthless because he said, "more government is going to hold you back." "More government is going to limit opportunities." "More government is going to create uncertainty." It's quite easy to be negative and disagreeable in his response especially when he didn't justify why more government is going to limit opportunities, create uncertainty or hold you back. It is unbelievable to hear Rubio's response without one positive comment about the speech only because republicans, meanwhile, made it clear they're in little mood to cooperate. It's all about the party and not about the people they represent.. It's been an ongoing humiliating sense of trust when members of congress cannot work across the aisles regardless of what party they belong to.
on February 13,2013 | 09:58AM
Pacej001 wrote:
I'll try: 1. Obamacare has put 1/6th of our economy, healthcare, in turmoil DURING the worst recession in 80 years. Hiring, business expansion, etc. don't work well during turmoil, especially during already great economic uncertainty. 2. Raising taxes during a recession is IQ-challenged because taxes subtract from economic growth, especially when they're levied DURING a recession. Obama care has over 20 new taxes buried in it. The latest Obama tax increase further suppresses growth DURING a recession. 3. Obama's energy policy has suppressed domestic energy production (on the lands the gov't controls), leading to higher energy costs and fewer energy jobs. Examples: moratorium on gulf oil drilling (perfectly safe, not super deep) cost tens of thousands of jobs on the gulf coast. The delay on the keystone pipeline, thousands more. The EPA pressure on the coal industry, thousands more. Get the picture? 4. Over regulation:Compliance with gov't regulation costs money that businesses could be using to hire or expand. Obama's the king of regulation. 5. National fiscal uncertainty caused by NOT HAVING A NATIONAL BUDGET for 5 years, by not working out compromise spending cuts has created uncertainty and led to an unheard of bond rating downgrade for US debt. All of this is bad for business, bad for hiring, bad in that it creates uncertainty leading companies to sit on their cash rather than invest it. 6. Finally: How the H could Rubio comment on a speech he'd not heard, that had just been made public minutes before he was scheduled to talk? Rubio was talking to the Obama record, which is one of gov't expansion, crony capitalism, and wasteful, futile stimulus spending. What Obama had to offer was more of the same policies that have not worked, will not work, and will keep the economy stuck in the mud.
on February 13,2013 | 04:29PM
entrkn wrote:
the gop should be looking within or they will all be outside in the cold looking in... they are a discredit to American Democracy
on February 13,2013 | 11:22AM
Pacej001 wrote:
Oh, I see. Only the GOP needs to be introspective. But no, wouldn't want the democrats to give one thought to not producing a national budget for going on 5 years, for their responsibility for adding 6 trillion to the national debt, for their failure to even consider altering entitlements which are going broke or to consider that all their stimulus spending still leaves us with an economy stuck at stall speed. Wouldn't want to disturb the democrats' pretty heads with such uncivil observations.
on February 13,2013 | 04:33PM
control wrote:
How many times must the president reach across the aisle only to be confronted with hostility and whining because he's not a republican or neo-con? The GOP needs to get their act together....there's a reason why they lost the election and at the rate they are going, they'll lose big next time.
on February 13,2013 | 12:51PM
Pacej001 wrote:
The president has never seriously "reached" across the aisle. Name one time. He's spent his time dividing, not uniting, vilifying the GOP, not working with them. With him it's been "my way or the highway", period. Now, he's gotten his tax cut on the evil rich, and what does he want? More taxes. This guy doesn't know the meaning of the word compromise.
on February 13,2013 | 04:36PM
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