GOP Unconvinced Obama Is Listening to Americans’ Concerns
House and Senate Republicans on Wednesday night wasted no time attacking President Barack Obama following his State of the Union speech, accusing him of being long on style but short on substance.“President Obama’s State of the Union address was like many of his other speeches — it was clearly well-delivered and certainly he has a gift,— National Republican Senatorial Committee Chairman John Cornyn (Texas) said. “But I was a little disappointed because the problem the president has is not a communications problem — he really has a credibility problem.“He’s made a bunch of promises over this last year, including one tonight that I liked about more tax relief. But we’ve all heard these promises before, and he simply hasn’t delivered.—Other Republicans, while not quite as pointed in their criticism, nevertheless attacked the president’s record over the past year and called on him to refocus his efforts, particularly on the economy and national security.House Minority Leader John Boehner (Ohio) said the GOP had hoped to see Obama renew his commitment to bipartisanship.Republicans “had hoped to hear a new commitment to keep his promises to govern from the center, change the tone in Washington, and work with both parties in a bipartisan way to help small businesses create jobs and get our economy moving again. Unfortunately, the president and the Democrats in charge of Congress still aren’t listening to the American people,— Boehner said, adding that, “the president’s message isn’t the problem, it’s his job-killing policies. The American people don’t want them, and that’s why they are saying Enough is enough.’—Likewise, House Republican Conference Vice Chairwoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers (Wash.) said Obama failed to convince her that he was committed to changing course. “I have serious concerns about the debt we have accumulated, the out-of-control spending and I didn’t hear him say that we had to be really committed to fiscal responsibility,— she said.“The president talked about jobs tonight. This is a welcome change in focus after the president and his administration spent nearly an entire year pursuing a partisan health care plan that would have spent trillions of dollars we don’t have rather than on a plan for getting Americans back to work,— Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said.McConnell said he is “hopeful the administration’s new focus on the economy will lead it to say no to more spending and debt, more bailouts, and more government,— adding that he was happy to see Obama committed to trying to trim the deficit.“The president’s words about the importance of deficit reduction are timely. The times require that we build upon these modest proposals. Americans are concerned about what kind of country we will leave to our children,— McConnell said.House Judiciary ranking member Lamar Smith (R-Texas) took Obama to task on immigration reform, arguing that stronger border controls could reduce unemployment. “We could cut the unemployment rate in half simply by enforcing immigration laws. Unfortunately, the Obama administration continues to ignore the 8 million illegal immigrants holding jobs that rightfully belong to out-of-work citizens and legal immigrants,— Smith said.For his part, Senate Republican Conference Chairman Lamar Alexander (Tenn.) said he hopes Obama’s State of the Union signals he’s prepared to shift his priorities.“My hope is that the president now will focus on jobs, debt, and terror. And it would suit me fine if he would stop right there until he has all three headed in the right direction. On jobs, that means lower taxes instead of higher taxes, cheap energy instead of a national energy tax, reducing health care costs instead of increasing them, and ending TARP instead of spending TARP. And it means getting the government out of the automobile business. All of that would create an environment in which Americans could create more jobs,— Alexander said.Jackie Kucinich contributed to this report.