US Senator Mike Rounds Weekly Column: State of the Union Address a Missed Opportunity

Weekly Column
State of the Union Address a Missed Opportunity
By Senator Mike Rounds
Jan. 23, 2015

MikeRounds official SenateThe State of the Union address fulfills a constitutionally mandated duty that calls on the President to periodically update Congress on the state of our nation. In recent history, the State of Union is an annual event in which the President addresses both chambers of Congress in person at the U.S. Capitol. President Obama’s 2015 address was no different. I sat with my colleagues no more than 50 feet from the President, listening in earnest for ways to work together to find areas of agreement or opportunity. As many of you have expressed, I too was disappointed.

Given the challenges we face as a nation, I had hoped the President would have used this opportunity to set a bipartisan, positive tone for 2015 and focus on our shared vision for moving the country forward. Republicans have wasted no time getting to work this year. In the Senate, we’re currently considering legislation to authorize construction of the Keystone XL pipeline. We are working on a number of bills that will help our economy grow, providing for private sector jobs and beginning to reduce government red-tape that is slowing down our recovery. We will not forget about the American taxpayers. We are already beginning our work. In the Senate, we’ve already voted on more amendments this year than all of 2014 under Democrat leadership.

Unfortunately, the President showed no signs of wanting to work with us on these issues. He told us again during the State of the Union that he plans to veto our Keystone pipeline bill, despite widespread support in Congress and among the American people. He also used the State of the Union to propose a tax plan he knows is dead on arrival in Congress because it calls for hundreds of billions of dollars in tax increases.  We know this hurts farmers, ranchers and small business owners. Our plan is to get the federal government out of the way so the economy can begin to grow again.

The President also used his speech to double down on his record, touting failed policies such as Obamacare, and took credit for a ‘strong’ economic recovery. It’s hard to take this rhetoric seriously when evidence of these successes is so scarce. We know that health care premiums have skyrocketed for many South Dakota families and many others lost the coverage they enjoyed all together because of the health care law. We also know that the median household income is weak. Since the President has taken office, median household annual income has dropped by $3,000 and the labor force has continued to shrink. That’s why few Americans are actually feeling the economic recovery he claims to have led us through.

The ideas laid out in the President’s speech may have excited the left wing of his political base, but it proved he has turned a deaf ear to the majority of Americans. By continuing to put politics first and promote the same old policies that have failed him in the past, he ignores the loud cries of voters who made clear they are tired of the same old ideas and practices in Washington.

Americans want us to work together to make government more efficient and effective. I, along with my Republican colleagues, remain committed to American priorities: jobs, the economy and government efficiency. We’re already rolling up our sleeves and getting to work again. Hopefully Congress and the President can find a way to put politics aside to remove the bureaucratic hurdles and unnecessary regulations that hardworking South Dakotans have to deal with every day. It’s time the President realizes that more government isn’t the right answer to the problems facing our country.