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Cramer reaction to State of the Union address

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Transcript of Congressman Kevin Cramer's video response to the State of the Union address:

So we just came off a big election where the American people elected a new Congress to be a check and balance on this administration, and yet tonight the President didn’t strike any type of a cooperative tone, at least nothing that I was hoping for. He sort of feigned that way a little bit with his references to a tight-knit family, and yet what he really does more than anything, I think, is drive wedges, which is what he did tonight.

Now, he proposed a lot of the same old top-down, tired old liberal arguments to fixing the country’s problems which really puts more power in the hands of the federal government. In fact, while he talked about a middle class economy, he never once referenced any regulatory reforms that would actually help middle class Americans. In fact, several reports have cited that this President’s regulatory reforms, so far, are going to cost the average middle class American $11,000 per year. $11,000. And yet, he didn’t talk about a single rollback of a federal regulation. In fact, he scoffed at Republican attempts to do exactly that. His ideas are that somehow we take more money from successful people, and give it to the bureaucracy to quote ‘create opportunities’, to ‘create jobs’.

On education, he wants to nationalize our higher education system now because somehow he thinks that K through 12 education has been such a great success that now the federal government should take over community colleges and provide free community college instead of creating more jobs for our graduates in the STEM fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. And certainly there are lots of job opportunities for people who don’t have a college degree, and yet he does nothing to help them. He does nothing to incent more manufacturing, or blue collar, hard-working American middle class jobs. Instead he wants to send people to college for free, as if he’s going to get volunteer professors and volunteer administrators, and free buildings donated for some sort of a free college program, incenting people to probably do something they don’t even want to do. It makes no sense. In fact, my view of the speech was that there’s a tremendous disconnect. A tremendous political disconnect between this President and the Congress, and a reality disconnect between this President and the American public, especially hard-working American middle class families.

On energy, his only mention of the Keystone XL pipeline was to diminish it, as though it’s not a big enough dream. Well, he can’t even do the little dreams. How is he going to do the big dreams? It was very unfortunate that he made this snide remark about a pipeline that would save North Dakotans’ lives, that would provide opportunity for North Dakota Bakken crude to be shipped more safely and more efficiently to market, that would free up 10 trains a week to move food from our farmers’ farms and bins to hungry people. He scoffs at that, and then talks about being more cooperative with Congress.


Further on jobs, he wants to nationalize a discussion about sick leave, instead of addressing the root cause of the lowest labor force participation rate in 36 years. In fact, some of the statistics he cited aren’t even really true. He talked about a middle class economy, and yet under his economy, in the seven years he’s been here, there’s been a growing gap between the top of the economic classes and the middle class. In fact, in the last several years, the only people who have seen their wages go up are the top ten percent. Just this last December, there was actually a rollback in income for middle class Americans.

On taxes, he wants to raise them to pay for more federal spending. What we really need is a simplifying of the tax code. Now, he sort of talked about the topic in rather high level discussion, but didn’t have any substantive ideas on how we would go about doing that. He talked about closing loopholes so that rich people pay their fair share, but he didn’t talk about how to simply a fairer tax code that would embrace and empower middle class Americans, job creators, or small manufacturers. In fact, our tax code punishes smaller industries and middle class Americans.

In the two weeks since swearing in, the House of Representatives has already passed a strong package of bills to create jobs and to reduce the federal regulations, and we will continue to do so. But what has he done in this new effort to have a tight-knit family? He’s threatened to veto all of them. He’s threatened to veto the bill that restores a 40 hour work week as full time employment. He wants 30 hours to be full time. He’s threatened to veto the Keystone XL pipeline that would create, as per his State Department’s estimates, 42,000 new jobs. He wants to veto that. He’s threatened to veto a bill we’re going to take up tomorrow. Tonight he took credit for the low prices of gas at the pump, and yet he’s threatened to veto the bill we’re going to take up tomorrow that would make it easier to capture natural gas on federal lands.

Now, I side with the majority of Americans who give the President an approval rating that is far below where it ought to be. But I do remain optimistic about the ability of the new American Congress to provide him with the political cover he needs to do the right thing for this country. He just needs to meet us part-way there. You don’t build friendships and relationships by threatening to veto every good idea we have, and say ‘let’s all be unified’, and unity by his measure is that we all become just like him.

Now I’m going to continue to work with him and his Administration in areas where we agree, and I’m also going to clearly articulate our differences in areas where we don’t.

Tonight was a great disappointment for me in the chamber. I’ve sat in three of President Obama’s State of the Union addresses. This was by far the most divisive and frankly the least inspiring of all of them. He tried to end on a high note by talking about the things in this town that tend to divide, whether it’s the lobbyists, or whether it’s the tax code, or whether it’s talk radio or cable television. He talked about all these industries that gain more by dividing us than they do by unifying us. I understand that. I share some of that concern with him. But you can’t give three or four minutes of inspiration at the end of what was a very divisive speech and expect to get a lot of cooperation. Let’s hope tomorrow’s a better day than tonight was, and that now that he got the politics out of his system, let’s hope he reads the tea leaves of the last election a little bit better, and joins us in this fight to restore the American dream for more people; more middle class hard-working Americans who want the dream. They just don’t want so much government, because they know that the government just stands in the way of the dream most of the time.

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