Weekly Columns

Last week, my colleagues and I gathered in the chamber of the House of Representatives, and the nation tuned in on TV, as President Obama laid out his agenda for America in the coming year.

There were hints of a willingness to offer some bold ideas that could unite Americans in the President’s State of the Union speech.  He spoke of an “all-of-the-above” energy strategy, and I was particularly pleased that he called for expanding our efforts to explore America’s natural gas resources.  However, there was also a stunning omission from this portion of his speech.  While noting it was American ingenuity, investment and hard work that built major infrastructure projects like the Hoover Dam and the interstate system, the President never mentioned why he denied a permit to a major infrastructure project that would have put 20,000 Americans back to work while reducing our dependence on hostile regimes for our energy needs.

Similarly, there was a missed opportunity when the President spoke of the need to reform the tax code, close loopholes and ensure that the middle class are not bearing the brunt of the tax burden.  This is another issue that all of America agrees need to be addressed and I was pleased to hear the President focus a large portion of his speech on it.  However, the problem arises when the President offers his solution.  Instead of comprehensive tax reform that eliminates the loopholes and unfair advantages, President Obama wants to push a tax increase on the American people and our small business owners. 

This particular issue underscores the divide the President is creating.  Washington doesn’t have a revenue problem, it has a spending problem.  Americans are calling on Washington to do as they do, which is to devise a budget and live within their means, something that the Senate Majority has refused to do for the last 1,000-plus days.  Instead of listening to the American people and tightening Washington’s purse strings, the President is attempting to play the blame game and engage in class warfare to pass a tax increase that will allow him to continue his excessive spending.

What the President chose to speak about during his speech is almost as important is what he decided to leave out.  The State of the Union speech is supposed to not only be about where we want to be, but where we are as a nation.  Right now, the two biggest problems facing our nation is the unacceptably high unemployment rate and equally unacceptable level of deficit spending by the federal government.  While the President spoke about job creation, he barely uttered a word about the national debt or deficit spending.  President Obama cannot continue to ignore the fact that if the path we are on puts us at risk going the direction of Greece, Ireland and Portugal, each facing economic crises that have pushed them to brink of default.

My colleagues and I are willing, in fact eager, to work with President Obama to jumpstart job growth in the private sector, reduce the national debt and pave the way for energy independence.  However, we need solutions that truly solve our problems, not proposals that merely kick the can down the road for future generations to face.  Unfortunately, there were more of the latter than the former in President Obama’s State of the Union speech.