As I didn’t watch the State of the Union speech live, I also missed the two responses to it from Barack Obama’s opposition. The networks carried Marco Rubio’s speech live, but most viewers had to go to the Tea Party Express website to watch Rand Paul rebut Obma’s SOTU address. While some may complain about that decision, it is arguably fair. If Mitt Romney had won the election, would we have cheered while the networks not only provided live coverage of Harry Reid’s rebuttal, but also one from Senator Bernie Sanders representing the Center for American Progress? Somehow, I doubt it.
Anyway, it’s almost anachronistic to complain about a lack of coverage in the age of YouTube, isn’t it?
Like Rubio, Paul eschewed the laundry-list agenda approach in his response, and in some ways relied more on philosophy than Rubio did:
Ronald Reagan said, government is not the answer to the problem, government is the problem.
Tonight, the President told the nation he disagrees. President Obama believes government is the solution: More government, more taxes, more debt.
What the President fails to grasp is that the American system that rewards hard work is what made America so prosperous.
What America needs is not Robin Hood but Adam Smith. In the year we won our independence, Adam Smith described what creates the Wealth of Nations.
He described a limited government that largely did not interfere with individuals and their pursuit of happiness.
All that we are, all that we wish to be is now threatened by the notion that you can have something for nothing, that you can have your cake and eat it too, that you can spend a trillion dollars every year that you don’t have.
Noting that Obama rebuked Congress for the supposedly dangerous cuts in the sequester, Paul reminded viewers who came up with the idea in the first place. He also pointed out that few understand that the sequester doesn’t actually cut current spending, but merely cuts the rate of growth in future spending:
The President does a big “woe is me” over the $1.2 trillion sequester that he endorsed and signed into law. Some Republicans are joining him. Few people understand that the sequester doesn’t even cut any spending. It just slows the rate of growth. Even with the sequester, government will grow over $7 trillion over the next decade.
Only in Washington could an increase of $7 trillion in spending over a decade be called a cut.
Like Rubio, Paul also argues for a balanced budget amendment:
So, what is the President’s answer? Over the past four years he has added over $6 trillion in new debt and may well do the same in a second term. What solutions does he offer? He takes entitlement reform off the table and seeks to squeeze more money out of the private sector.
He says he wants a balanced approach.
What the country really needs is a balanced budget. …
To begin with, we absolutely must pass a Balanced Budget Amendment to the Constitution!
The amendment must include strict tax and spending limitations.
Liberals complain that the budget can’t be balanced but if you cut just one penny from each dollar we currently spend, the budget would balance within six or seven years.
Contra Obama, Paul says that Washington has plenty of bipartisanship … and that’s the problem:
It is often said that there is not enough bipartisanship up here.
That is not true.
In fact, there is plenty.
Both parties have been guilty of spending too much, of protecting their sacred cows, of backroom deals in which everyone up here wins, but every taxpayer loses.
It is time for a new bipartisan consensus.
It is time Democrats admit that not every dollar spent on domestic programs is sacred. And it is time Republicans realize that military spending is not immune to waste and fraud.
It’s an excellent, vigorous speech aimed at the GOP base, a clever companion to Rubio’s effort to recast the GOP more broadly within the electorate. Before yesterday, most news accounts cast this as a competition between the two men, and that competition may arise electorally at some point. To me, though, these two speeches look more complementary than competitive, as Republicans attempt to grow their influence and enlarge their tent rather than just shift the tent pegs over.