Obama Touts Fiscal Discipline, Chides Congress in Weekly Address

Posted February 13, 2010 at 5:00am

President Barack Obama used his weekly radio address on Saturday to tout his signature of “pay-as-you-go” budget-neutral legislation into law on Friday.

Obama also highlighted the steps he has taken to restore fiscal responsibility, including his call for $20 billion in budget cuts this year, a freeze in nonmilitary discretionary spending for three years and a bipartisan debt commission.

But he singled out the legislation he just signed into law imposing mandatory PAYGO rules on lawmakers.

“It’s pretty simple. It says to Congress, you have to pay as you go. You can’t spend a dollar unless you cut a dollar elsewhere,” Obama said.

The president took a shot at Congress for requiring a law to make them adhere to fiscally responsible practices.

“This is Washington. While in theory there is bipartisan agreement on moving on balanced budgets, in practice, this responsibility for the future is often overwhelmed by the politics of the moment. It falls prey to the pressure of special interests, to the pull of local concerns. … That is why this rule is necessary. And that is why I am pleased that Congress fulfilled my request to restore it,” Obama said.

In delivering the Republican response to the president, Sen. Lindsey Graham (S.C.) focused on criticism of the administration’s national security policies.

Graham bashed the administration’s decision to prosecute five suspected 9/11 terrorists in civilian courts in New York, a decision that he said makes “no sense.”

“Never before have we allowed noncitizen, enemy combatants captured on the battlefield access to our civilian courts providing them with the same constitutional rights as American citizens. Al-Qaida terrorists should not receive more rights than a Nazi war criminal,” Graham said.

Graham, one of the chief authors of the revised Military Commission Act of 2009, added: “For the good of the nation, I hope the Obama administration will alter their policies.”