In an exclusive to the FlashReport, Rep. Ed Royce provides his thoughts on some of the specific issues raised by the president in last night's State of the Union address.
A few thoughts on last night's State of the Union
Spending Freeze. Some say the headline was his call for a 5 year "spending freeze." This was the president that authorized the bailouts, signed the $800 billion un-stimulating stimulus package, created the $2 trillion entitlement program known as Obamacare and increased overall spending by 84 percent. Since the president's last State of the Union speech (when he proposed his first failed spending freeze), our national debt has gone up by $1.7 trillion. Now he's calling for a freeze rather than cuts? I am afraid he's a day late and a few trillion dollars short. If he is serious about addressing our skyrocketing debt, he'd better take a more serious look at the federal budget. Step #1, bring government spending back to the pre-bailout, pre-stimulus levels of 2008. Step #2, get onboard with House Republicans' drive for a balanced budget.
Role of Government. The pundits are saying this speech was the president trying to move to the political center. It doesn't sound like his underlying view of government has changed much. Take this snippet on spending cuts: "Cutting the deficit by gutting our investments in innovation and education is like lightening an overloaded airplane by removing its engine." Really? Our economic "engine" is more government spending? I doubt Henry Ford or Thomas Edison would agree. The elections last November were about scaling back the size and scope of the federal government and getting government off of the backs of the entrepreneurs and businesses that made this country great. Time is running out for the president to make that connection.
Health care. The president's health plan is now law, yet costs are still going up and people are losing the coverage they were told they could keep. The law's taxes, penalties, mandates and fees will hamper job creation in this tough economy. We need a fiscally responsible plan with patient-centered reforms that actually reduce costs and expand coverage. Rather than a huge health care bill that we can't afford, it is time to give individuals and states much greater freedom and encouragement to put into place innovative approaches that will work best for them.
Immigration. Over the last few years Obama has pressed for amnesty. That has not materialized. What the American people want is border enforcement first. We must restore the integrity of our nation's borders and reestablish respect for our immigration laws.
Foreign Policy. Foreign policy rhetoric was pretty pro forma. The president did seem more comfortable with us being #1 in the world. Not bad for a guy who once equated "American exceptionalism with Greek exceptionalism."
Iran and North Korea. Clever. He mentioned fewer nuclear weapons in the world just before he mentioned progress on Iran and North Korea. Sadly, no real progress there. The less nukes he was talking about are ours and Russia's -- not exactly the biggest proliferation threat.
Exports. Great to finally hear the president call for Congress to act on the Korea trade agreement, which would slash Korean taxes on U.S. goods in one of the world's largest markets. [Obama was against it, before he was for it.] Let's get it done, or we risk losing $30 billion in American exports and jobs to Europeans who stepped-in while Obama and the Democratic House took a vacation from opening markets.
Education. Good to hear the president recognize that there can be "no excuses" for bad teachers. But it would have been far better for him to recognize the kids in Speaker Boehner's box, who are attending private schools in the nation's capital thanks to the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship program -- a program that congressional Democrats have refused to renew. Shame on them. A perfect bipartisan moment in the making -- the president didn't bite.