GOP: Government ‘trying to do too much’


WASHINGTON — Even as President Barack Obama mounted a strident defense of his fiscal policies Wednesday night,
Republicans charged that the president’s approach has done little to
revive a moribund economy.

In particular, they criticized the president’s stimulus bill, which they said failed to curb unemployment.

“Last year, we were told that massive new federal
spending would create more jobs immediately and hold unemployment under
8 percent,” said newly elected Gov. Robert F. McDonnell of Virginia, who delivered the GOP response to the State of the Union address. “In the past year, over 3 million Americans lost their jobs.”

The national unemployment rate currently sits at 10 percent.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky said Obama’s speech marked a “welcome change.”

“I’m hopeful the administration’s new focus on the
economy will lead it to say no to more spending and debt, more
bailouts, and more government,” McConnell said.

McDonnell, elected as Virginia’s
governor’s last fall, was tasked with laying out not only a response to
the president’s address but detailing a Republican blueprint for
success in the upcoming congressional elections — a source of hope for
the GOP.

Last week’s victory in Massachusetts by Republican U.S. Senate candidate Scott Brown has fueled the party’s plans to use widespread public unhappiness with the economy as a springboard.

Not surprisingly, McDonnell, himself a rising star
in the party, mentioned Brown in his remarks delivered after Obama’s
speech. In an unusual move, McDonnell gave his speech from the floor of
Virginia’s House of Delegates rather than simply in front of a camera.

Along with criticism of Obama’s economic policies,
McDonnell attacked the Democratic health care overhaul and the
congressional climate bill that would cap carbon emissions.

“The federal government is simply trying to do too much,” McDonnell said.

Brown, who has yet to be sworn in as a senator, also
quickly responded to the president’s address, saying in a statement
that “putting America to work requires bold action. Bold action means
broad-based tax cuts for families and businesses to create jobs and not
merely targeted tax relief.”

In his remarks, Obama challenged congressional
Republicans to work together now that Democrats no longer enjoy a
60-vote, filibuster-proof hold on the Senate. Before Brown’s victory, many votes on health care split almost entirely down party lines.

“If the Republican leadership is going to insist that 60 votes in the Senate
are required to do business at all in this town — a supermajority —
then the responsibility to govern is now yours as well,” Obama said.

McDonnell said that Republicans, too, “want cooperation. Not partisanship.”

But with Obama’s popularity flagging and the elections looming, that cooperation could be difficult to obtain.

(c) 2010, Tribune Co.

Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.


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