In the News: Blog

By John Gizzi

If President Obama felt he could get any support among Republican senators for key items in his State of the Union address last night, he was mistaken.

Almost to a person, lawmakers among the 47 Republican senators who talked to Human Events following the President’s speech to Congress were highly skeptical of Mr. Obama’s call for freezing non-defense domestic discretionary spending after he has already raised that spending to new levels.

As was the case among House Republicans, the toughest criticism among the senators came from the freshmen Members who are attending their first State of the Unoin message.

“I was pleased he said he’ll support the bill ending earmarks,” new Sen. Kelly Atyotte (R.-NH) told us, but she quickly added:  “The proposed freeze on domestic spending does not go far enough, not at all, especially after he has already raised the same spending by more than 20%.  We should not just be freezing spending but cutting it—and going a lot further than we are.”

Ayotte said she grades the President’s address “C+.”

When Human Events asked Ayotte’s fellow freshman Ron Johnson the same question, the Wisconsin senator simply laughed and said: “I’m not a teacher.”

Johnson went on to give the President good grades for what he called “soaring rhetoric” but then said he would have to “wait and see if his actions met the rhetoric.”

He was sharply critical of Obama call’s for a domestic spending freeze because “we’ve got to take this debt very seriously and that means a constitutional amendment to balance the budget and the straight-jacket caps I want to apply to spending.

The Badger State Republican, who was in private business until his dramatic upset of Democratic Sen. Russ Feingold last fall, was also skeptical about Obama’s call for greater deregulations.  As he put it, “We’re over-regulated as it is and right now, his regulators are in overdrive.”

Ohio’s freshman Sen. Rob Portman was most succinct, when he said: “It was a good speech, but the problem not the rhetoric but the action.  And the action he has taken so far has not increased jobs at all.”

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