WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama delivered an election-year broadside to Republicans: Game on.
The GOP, from Congress to the campaign trail, signaled it’s ready for the fight — including some of Georgia’s delegates in the House, Rep. Jack Kingston, and Senate, Sen. Saxby Chambliss and Sen. Johnny Isakson.
“Tackling the challenges facing our country will take more than words,” Kingston, who serves the 1st Congressional District that includes this area, said in a prepared statement. “Therefore, the real test is not what was said tonight but how we move forward and what can be accomplished in the days ahead ...
“Where we can find common ground, I look forward to working with the president. Where he clings to failed policies or to politics of division, I will continue to advance alternatives that will help restore the American dream.”
Chambliss noted his disappointment in what the president left out his speach.
“I was disappointed that the president did not mention the greatest threat to our union last night — our out of control $15 trillion debt,” he said. “We cannot let election year politics deter us from trying to enact meaningful legislation that reforms entitlements, simplifies the tax code and cuts spending.”
Isakson said the only “real fairness” would come from government budgeting the way a household does.
“Real ‘fairness’ would be government doing what American families have had to do: sit around the kitchen table, prioritize spending, get their spending in line and not borrow too much money,” he said in a statement issued after the address.
Isakson also touched on specifics from the president’s address, including taxation and job growth.
“When it comes to taxation, we need a comprehensive approach. The president’s own commission, Simpson-Bowles, recommended that we do away with many of the current tax expenditures and tax deductions, lower the tax rate on our taxpayers and produce more income,” Isakson said. “That will bring capital off the sidelines and investment back to small business. We need a comprehensive approach, not a winners and losers approach to tax reform.
“Additionally, if on the one hand, you speak of more jobs for Americans and energy security, and on the other hand, you reject 20,000 jobs, which the Keystone XL pipeline would have brought about, and 70,000 barrels of crude from Canada, one of our best friends, then you are saying one thing and doing something else — that’s wrong for our country,” he continued. “We need leadership on energy security.”
In his third State of the Union address, Obama issued a populist call for income equality that echoed the Occupy Wall Street movement. He challenged GOP lawmakers to work with him or move aside so he could use the power of the presidency to produce results for an electorate uncertain whether he deserves another term.
Facing a deeply divided Congress, Obama appealed to lawmakers to send him legislation on immigration, clean energy and housing, knowing full well the election-year prospects are bleak but aware that polls show that the independent voters who lifted him to the presidency crave bipartisanship.
“I intend to fight obstruction with action,” Obama told a packed chamber and tens of millions of Americans watching in prime time. House Republicans greeted his words with stony silence.
The Democratic president’s vision of an activist government broke sharply with Republican demands for less government intervention to allow free enterprise. The stark differences will be evident in the White House’s dealings with Congress and in the presidential campaign over the next 10 months.
Campaigning in Florida, GOP presidential hopeful Newt Gingrich rejected Obama’s call for higher taxes on the wealthy.
“If he actually meant what he said it would be a disaster of the first order,” said the former House speaker, who called it “the most anti-jobs single step he could take.”