Majority Leader Eric Cantor of Virginia has been on a media blitz this week to set out the House Republican agenda. The point that should not be missed is that it’s been Cantor leading, not Speaker of the House John Boehner.
So, tonight, everything comes together. At 9 p.m., President Obama will deliver his “State of the Union.” Following his address, Bearing Drift will provide our congressional delegation’s reaction as soon as we can, including audio interviews with Rep. J. Randy Forbes and Rep. Rob Wittman. Visit BD at this post at or around 11 pm for exclusive reaction to the president’s speech.
UPDATE 12:15 AM INTERVIEWS WITH REP. J. RANDY FORBES (VA-04) AND REP. ROB WITTMAN (VA-01):
UPDATE 11:55 PM STATEMENT OF REP. ROBERT HURT (VA-05):
“At this important time in our nation’s history, we are tasked with the duty to leave this country a better and a more prosperous place than was left to us. And while the President discussed many important issues tonight, a harsh economic reality remains. Thousands of hard-working Americans in Virginia’s 5th District are out of work, a more than $16 trillion national debt threatens the future of this great nation, and too many are finding the American Dream to be out of reach.
“The President’s policies have led to bigger government, more debt, less job creation, and fewer Americans doing better than our parents’ generation. Consistent, double-digit unemployment has plagued the 5th District; fewer small businesses have started and more have failed; families have continued to struggle as the cost of living is rising and wages are falling; and hardworking taxpayers across this country are paying the price for the President’s continued resistance to balance the budget.
“The House of Representatives has acted, but we cannot alone restore American prosperity. We must, over the next two years, together adopt policies that will preserve this great nation for our children and grandchildren. Together, we can balance the budget, restore economic stability, empower our small business owners, and ensure that all hardworking Americans have a chance to be part of the American Dream. We can do this, not by government solutions, but as generations before us have, by placing faith in the American people. As we continue our work in the House to ensure that all of those in Virginia’s 5th District and across this country have a chance, I look forward to the President and the Senate joining with us.”
UPDATE 11:05 PM STATEMENT OF REP. MORGAN GRIFFITH (VA-09):
“Tonight, the President’s speech included a lot of platitudes and proposals for lots of new programs that cost money. The President cannot pay for these new programs without new taxes on the middle class, or significant spending cuts. President Obama has said he wants neither significant spending cuts or new taxes on the middle class. It will be interesting to see his actual proposals.”
UPDATE 10:55 PM STATEMENT OF HOUSE BUDGET COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN PAUL RYAN (WI):
“I’m concerned the President doesn’t fully appreciate the challenge of our national debt—and its threat to our economy. Tonight, he outlined many new programs in detail. But when it came to spending restraint, he was remarkably brief. He overstated his administration’s success on this front. And he downplayed the task before us.
“This isn’t a partisan issue. It’s math.”
UPDATE 10:55 PM STATEMENT OF MAJORITY LEADER ERIC CANTOR (VA-07):
“Working families in our country need a break. They want more time with their kids, better wages, better education and health care and the chance to get a good job. House Republicans are focused on helping Moms and Dads achieve the goals they set for themselves and their families. Our solutions will be based on the conservative principles of self reliance, faith in the individual, trust in the family and accountability in government.
“The President spoke of some familiar problems this evening. He said we needed tax reform, but only if it raises taxes. He said we need education reform, but has denied parents the opportunity to choose schools. He rightly said we need more research dollars to fight and cure diseases, which is an idea I share, that we can accomplish without increasing overall spending.
“The President said we do not need a bigger government, but a smarter government, and I agree. But actions speak louder than words. There is common ground to be found in many areas where we can immediately help Moms and Dads without asking them to fund more government.
“For four years, we have seen record deficits and mountains of debt heaped on our children and grandchildren. And for four years we have seen little to no action from President Obama or his Democratic colleagues in the Senate to take our spending problem seriously. Yesterday, his advisors told the Washington Post that the job of reducing the deficit was nearly done. This view defies reality.
“It’s time for real change. We can restore confidence in Washington by working together to find common ground to our shared challenges. We can resist partisanship, recognize reality and embrace achievable measures that will make life work for more people.”
UPDATE 10:50 PM STATEMENT OF SEN. MARK WARNER:
“I was pleased the President began his speech with a strong call for a bipartisan grand bargain to continue to address our deficits and debt.
A balanced plan that includes additional revenue, smarter spending cuts and responsible entitlement reform — and avoids the self-inflcted wounds from sequester — is a key component of any economic growth agenda.
The President also endorsed a proposal I unveiled last week to work to double our nation’s energy productivity by 2030, and I look forward to helping to lead the effort to make smart investments to rebuild our nation’s infrastructure.
We will have many opportunities in the weeks and months ahead to work together to strengthen the economic recovery and move our country forward.”
UPDATE 10:45 PM STATEMENT OF REP. SCOTT RIGELL (VA-02):
“Given the profound challenges facing our country, I listened intently to what President Obama shared in his State of the Union address.
President Obama will lead America for the next four years and I wanted him to put forth this evening a bold, definitive economic plan that would unlock the tremendous job creating potential of the American entrepreneur. Though many words were spoken, none formed the vision I wanted to hear, one backed by a plan that rises to the challenges we face.
When introducing new plans that grow the federal government, the President leads with conviction and his plans are specific. In contrast, and what troubles me so greatly, is that when he mentions the nation’s most difficult fiscal challenges, like the critical need to reform and save Medicare, the President is so vague that his “plans” are no more than a fuzzy sentiment.
Unfortunately the same is true with respect to averting the sharp defense cuts known as “sequestration.” Though the idea of the sequester came from his Administration and the President stated unambiguously that “sequestration will not happen,” he has been largely silent on an issue that directly impacts national security, and our national and local economies. Today’s revelation that North Korea conducted its third nuclear test is yet another reason why sequestration must not happen.
I have twice voted for legislation to replace the sequester with a balanced approach of reforms and spending reductions. However the Senate has failed to bring this legislation to the Senate floor for consideration.
This is the reality in Washington and it is unacceptable. My determined effort to put our country first, to find and advance common ground, will continue. I appreciate and respect President Obama expressing our nation’s gratitude to our men and women in uniform, and their families. My resolve to lead by example, and to say what must be said, is inspired by their service and sacrifice and the duty we have to pass on the blessings of liberty and freedom to the next generation of Americans.”
UPDATE 7:45 PM – EXCERPTS FROM SEN MARCO RUBIO’S RESPONSE (Courtesy of Speaker Boehner):
“This opportunity – to make it to the middle class or beyond no matter where you start out in life – it isn’t bestowed on us from Washington. It comes from a vibrant free economy where people can risk their own money to open a business. And when they succeed, they hire more people, who in turn invest or spend the money they make, helping others start a business and create jobs. Presidents in both parties – from John F. Kennedy to Ronald Reagan – have known that our free enterprise economy is the source of our middle class prosperity. But President Obama? He believes it’s the cause of our problems.”
“Mr. President, I still live in the same working class neighborhood I grew up in. My neighbors aren’t millionaires. They’re retirees who depend on Social Security and Medicare. They’re workers who have to get up early tomorrow morning and go to work to pay the bills. They’re immigrants, who came here because they were stuck in poverty in countries where the government dominated the economy. The tax increases and the deficit spending you propose will hurt middle class families. It will cost them their raises. It will cost them their benefits. It may even cost some of them their jobs. And it will hurt seniors because it does nothing to save Medicare and Social Security. So Mr. President, I don’t oppose your plans because I want to protect the rich. I oppose your plans because I want to protect my neighbors.”
“Economic growth is the best way to help the middle class. Unfortunately, our economy actually shrank during the last three months of 2012. But if we can get the economy to grow at just 4 percent a year, it would create millions of middle class jobs. And it could reduce our deficits by almost $4 trillion dollars over the next decade. Tax increases can’t do this. Raising taxes won’t create private sector jobs. And there’s no realistic tax increase that could lower our deficits by almost $4 trillion. That’s why I hope the President will abandon his obsession with raising taxes and instead work with us to achieve real growth in our economy.”
“The real cause of our debt is that our government has been spending 1 trillion dollars more than it takes in every year. That’s why we need a balanced budget amendment. The biggest obstacles to balancing the budget are programs where spending is already locked in. One of these programs, Medicare, is especially important to me. It provided my father the care he needed to battle cancer and ultimately die with dignity. And it pays for the care my mother receives now. I would never support any changes to Medicare that would hurt seniors like my mother. But anyone who is in favor of leaving Medicare exactly the way it is right now, is in favor of bankrupting it.”
“Despite our differences, I know that both Republicans and Democrats love America. I pray we can come together to solve our problems, because the choices before us could not be more important. If we can get our economy healthy again, our children will be the most prosperous Americans ever. And if we do not, we will forever be known as the generation responsible for America’s decline.”
NOTE: The Republican address can be watched live online following the president’s State of the Union at GOP.gov/SOTU. (you can also follow along there during the speech).
The entire article, plus the first look at the new Virginia Big Line and much more, can be viewed at Dead Reckoning, Bearing Drift’s newsletter. Dead Reckoning is published on Tuesdays and Thursdays each week. Subscriptions are $3 per month — just a dime a day. To subscribe, click here, or on the Dead Reckoning banner on the website’s sidebar