Presenting the Republican rebuttal to the State of the Union address, Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels (R) attacked President Barack Obama, saying his administration's extreme and divisive policies have held back economic recovery. He said the country must instead be righted by a pro-growth agenda, a simpler tax system, and a balancing of deficits.
"No feature of the Obama Presidency has been sadder than its constant efforts to divide us, to curry favor with some Americans by castigating others," Daniels said.
Following a decision by the administration to delay construction of the Keystone XL pipeline, the Indiana governor said Obama's policies would put America in poverty.
[The following is Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels' Republican response to President Obama's State of the Union, as prepared for delivery.]
"The status of 'loyal opposition' imposes on those out of power some serious responsibilities: to show respect for the Presidency and its occupant, to express agreement where it exists. Republicans tonight salute our President, for instance, for his aggressive pursuit of the murderers of 9/11, and for bravely backing long overdue changes in public education. I personally would add to that list admiration for the strong family commitment that he and the First Lady have displayed to a nation sorely needing such examples.
[The White House has released the text of President Obama's State of the Union address, as prepared for delivery.]
Mr. Speaker, Mr. Vice President, members of Congress, distinguished guests, and fellow Americans:
Last month, I went to Andrews Air Force Base and welcomed home some of our last troops to serve in Iraq. Together, we offered a final, proud salute to the colors under which more than a million of our fellow citizens fought - and several thousand gave their lives.
We gather tonight knowing that this generation of heroes has made the United States safer and more respected around the world. For the first time in nine years, there are no Americans fighting in Iraq. For the first time in two decades, Osama bin Laden is not a threat to this country. Most of al Qaeda's top lieutenants have been defeated. The Taliban's momentum has been broken, and some troops in Afghanistan have begun to come home.
In his third State of the Union address Tuesday night, President Obama gives policy shape to the so-called "Buffett Rule" -- the principle that wealthy Americans should bear at least as high a tax burden as middle class workers -- by telling the American people that no one making over $1 million a year should pay less than 30% in federal income taxes.
But don't mistake this for a generic call for Congressional action, or the sort of pie in the sky national goal that often marks major Presidential addresses. The push also serves as an effort to set a simple but resounding tone for the 2012 election and simultaneously draw a convenient contrast with his likely general election opponent Mitt Romney (R) who today revealed he only paid 13.9 percent in taxes on his more-than $20 million income last year.
The President's pivot comes after a year in which the White House worked assiduously to refocus the national debate from budget retrenchment to economic growth, tax equity, and the preservation of federal programs for older and poorer Americans. And they come just as political developments and public perception have shifted in his party's favor. The theme of restoring equality of opportunity for the middle class capitalizes on the Democrats' victory last month over House Republicans, who opposed extending a payroll tax cut aimed at those hit hard by the economic crisis, and 30 years of stagnating wages. In that battle, Democrats succeeded in painting the GOP's hesitance to continue the tax holiday as evidence that they oppose government action to help working Americans, particularly as they continue their years-long fight to protect the upper classes from any tax increases of any kind.
In theory, today was the perfect storm. Mitt Romney released his tax returns on the same day as the president was expected to stand up in front of the nation and give a strong speech focusing on tax reform and income equality.
However, if you spent the day listening to Republicans, it turns out that, despite having no knowledge of the content of the State Of The Union speech, they were ready to condemn it as a partisan, divisive, politically motivated nightmare....
In the Republican address, Gov. Mitch Daniels (R-IN) made his own bad pun to match Obama’s “spilled milk” attempted joke from earlier in the night:
“Contrary to the President's constant disparagement of people in business, it's one of the noblest of human pursuits. The late Steve Jobs - what a fitting name he had - created more of them than all those stimulus dollars the President borrowed and blew. Out here in Indiana, when a businessperson asks me what he can do for our state, I say ‘First, make money. Be successful. If you make a profit, you'll have something left to hire someone else, and some to donate to the good causes we love.’
In addition, Steve Jobs was himself a Democrat and a supporter of Obama, and his widow sat as a guest of the First Lady at the State of the Union address.
Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ) entered the House chamber to wide applause before the State of the Union address. Later, when President Obama entered the chamber, and made the rounds shaking hands before the speech, he made a special stop to meet with her.
Giffords, who survived after she was shot in the head at a district event a year ago, is resigning from the House in order to focus on her recovery.
Obama could be seen hugging Giffords, and having a brief conversation.