Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) used the GOP response to President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address Wednesday night to slam the administration and Congressional Democrats for relying too heavily on the government to fix the nation’s problems.
“Today, the federal government is simply trying to do too much. Last year, we were told that massive new federal spending would create more jobs immediately’ and hold unemployment below 8 percent. In the past year, over three million Americans have lost their jobs, yet the Democratic Congress continues deficit spending, adding to the bureaucracy and increasing the national debt on our children and grandchildren,— McDonnell said in his prepared response delivered immediately after Obama’s national address.
Rather than increased government action, the newly elected McDonnell argued: “The circumstances of our time demand that we reconsider and restore the proper, limited role of government at every level. Without reform, the excessive growth of government threatens our very liberty and prosperity.—
On issues ranging from health care reform to job creation, McDonnell repeatedly sought to cast Democratic efforts as overly intrusive while painting Republicans as the keepers of the Reagan-era notion of limited government.
For instance, on health care, McDonnell argued that Democratic plans would lead to the nation turning “over the best medical care system in the world to the federal government,— while asserting that GOP “solutions aren’t thousand-page bills that no one has fully read, after being crafted behind closed doors with special interests.—
McDonnell spoke from the House chamber at the Virginia Capitol in Richmond.
On jobs and the economy, McDonnell argued that the government should look to “promote entrepreneurship and innovation,— rather than piling “on more taxation, regulation, and litigation that kill jobs and hurt the middle class.— McDonnell also called for cuts to federal spending beyond the three-year, non-military freeze called for by Obama.
“The amount of this debt is on pace to double in five years, and triple in ten. The federal debt is already over $100,000 per household. This is simply unsustainable. The President’s partial freeze on discretionary spending is a laudable step, but a small one. The circumstances of our time demand that we reconsider and restore the proper, limited role of government at every level,— McDonnell said.
McDonnell did find some common ground with the administration during his speech, particularly on education. “The President and I agree on expanding the number of high-quality charter schools, and rewarding teachers for excellent performance. More school choices for parents and students mean more accountability and greater achievement,— McDonnell said, adding that, “a child’s educational opportunity should be determined by her intellect and work ethic, not by her zip code.—
And while he praised Obama’s strategy in Afghanistan, he echoed the criticisms of Senate Republicans, who are taking Obama to task for his handling of terrorists. “We applaud President Obama’s decision to deploy 30,000 more troops to Afghanistan. We agree that victory there is a national security imperative. But we have serious concerns over recent steps the Administration has taken regarding suspected terrorists. Americans were shocked on Christmas Day to learn of the attempted bombing of a flight to Detroit. This foreign terror suspect was given the same legal rights as a U.S. citizen, and immediately stopped providing critical intelligence,— he said.
McDonnell also used the GOP response to outline broader philosophical differences between Republicans and Democrats.
“Government must help foster a society in which all our people can use their God-given talents in liberty to pursue the American Dream. Republicans know that government cannot guarantee individual outcomes, but we strongly believe that it must guarantee equality of opportunity for all,— McDonnell will said, adding, “Top-down one-size fits all decision making should not replace the personal choices of free people in a free market, nor undermine the proper role of state and local governments in our system of federalism. As our Founders clearly stated, and we Governors understand, government closest to the people governs best.—