WASHINGTON: Republican lawmakers slammed President Barack Obama’s State of the Union speech on Tuesday for not tackling the nation’s budget crisis, saying he only offered bigger government and more spending.
One after the other, Republican senators and congressmen expressed disappointment with the litany of new programmes Obama mentioned — from education and infrastructure to manufacturing and tax reform — saying he failed to explain how the country would pay for them.
Obama “missed an opportunity to try to connect with members on my side of the aisle and many in the country who recognize we have a serious problem with out of control government spending,” Bob Goodlatte, chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, said after the one-hour speech to Congress.
Obama’s soaring rhetoric appeared to have done little to span the partisan divide that has hindered major legislation in recent years.
“Not impressive,” sniffed Republican Tim Scott, one of two African-American senators currently in the chamber.
“It sounds like we have endless streams of cash coming from somewhere,” Scott added. “It’s remarkable to think the wish list can be accomplished without actually seeing higher revenues.” Conservative congressman Raul Labrador put it succinctly: “Probably one of the worst speeches I’ve ever heard the president give,” he winced. Obama was disjointed and unfocused, Labrador said, adding that the president only became emotional near the end when he addressed the need to reduce gun violence.
One area where he and several other Republicans, including Senator Rob Portman and congressman Cory Gardner, offered positive feedback was on immigration.
Republican Senator Rand Paul, who offered the Tea Party response, was more blunt about his party’s need to tap into minority voters.
“We are the party that embraces hard work and ingenuity, therefore we must be the party that embraces the immigrant who wants to come to America for a better future,” Paul said.
“We must be the party who sees immigrants as assets, not liabilities.”
But Rubio was the Republican most people were talking about late Tuesday, after an impromptu and bizarre incident during his televised speech, which left many observers scratching their heads.
In the middle of his speech, Rubio leaned nearly out of the frame, picked up a bottle of Poland Spring water and seemed to take a furtive sip before anxiously returning to his comments.
Social media and the Twitter world exploded, with several parodies of the water sip popping up within minutes and critics suggesting the awkward move damaged his image.