WASHINGTON — Congressional reactions to President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address broke down largely along party lines: Republicans were disappointed, Democrats were energized.
“Not so much,” said Sen. Tim Scott, when asked if he liked the speech.
“I think it was a laundry list of opportunities that he’d like to accomplish that certainly seems like more of a Christmas list,” Scott said, lamenting that Obama had not explained how he would pay for his proposals.
Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, chairman of the House Republican Conference, said she was “disappointed” with the speech, “in that the president didn’t seem to recognize the role that the debt and the deficit is playing in our economy.”
She also faulted Obama for not announcing a plan to replace the sequester budget cuts set to take effect on March 1.
Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, who had a glum look on his face for the duration of the speech, railed against the president’s proposals to fight gun violence.
“We should not be stripping away the constitutional rights of law abiding Americans, especially when the empirical evidence demonstrates overwhelmingly that doing so not only does not decrease violent crimes, but often it increases violent crimes,” Cruz said.
When a reporter asked Sen. Mike Lee what he thought, the Utah Republican paused for a moment, then grinned a little.
“Loved it,” he said, completely deadpan.
Democrats, on the other hand, really did love it.
“President Obama tonight laid out a strong and compelling course for Hawaii and our country,” said Hawaii Sen. Mazie Hirono in a statement.
“The President laid out a bold, common sense and critical agenda to grow our economy, strengthen the middle class, and reduce inequality in America,” Rep. George Miller’s statement added.
“The President laid out his vision for a safer, more inclusive and more prosperous America,” said Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chair, Rep. Steve Israel. “House Democrats are united in our commitment to create jobs by growing the middle class, to fix our broken immigration system and to protect our kids by reducing gun violence.”
Some Democrats, however, were more open about their disagreements.
“I thought it had a good tone to it,” said West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin. “It had a bipartisan tone, it was an all American tone, it was basically looking at the next generation … I like all of those things and the tone that was used, I just hope we follow through with it.”
But, he continued, “I was disappointed on energy — not to say a world about coal.”
Sen. Mark Begich, a Democrat who will face re-election in the red-leaning state of Alaska in next year, issued a statement that tempered its compliments with specific emphasis on points of disagreement.
Tuesday morning, the National Republican Senatorial Committee released a memo saying that Democratic senators who face re-election in 2014 in moderate- to conservative-leaning states would be held accountable for Obama’s agenda — one that they suggest will not be popular in those Senators’ home states, Alaska among them.
“I was pleased to hear the President touch on key Alaska priorities … However, I have never been shy about taking a different approach to tackling tough issues,” Begich’s statement began.
“I wish the President had spent more time talking about how to help small businesses grow by giving them greater access to federal contracts and reducing the overwhelming load of government regulations,” he added, after praising the president for his other proposals.
Begich concluded by promising to “make sure Washington doesn’t get in the way of our economic future.”