Obama State of the Union lands with a thud in Congress
John Boehner answers questions at the Republican Party Headquarters on Capitol Hill February 13, 2013 in Washington, DC.
That went nowhere fast.
President Obama laid out nearly two dozen proposals, promises, and calls for Congress to act Tuesday night in his fourth State of the Union address. But his speech was met by a brick wall of Republican opposition.
"An opportunity to bring the country together instead became another retread of lip service and liberalism,” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said. “For a Democratic president entering his second term, it was simply unequal to the moment.”
Despite President Obama’s subtle reference to wanting to reform Medicare during the State of the Union address, McConnell accused Obama of catering to his base, and dismissed the speech as “pedestrian” and “liberal boilerplate.”
“Following four years of this president's unwillingness to challenge liberal dogma, we got more of the same,” McConnell said.
That echoed House Speaker John Boehner’s charge yesterday that the president didn’t have “the guts” to challenge his base and make spending cuts to fix the budget.
Asked if Democrats on the Hill would be willing to entertain cuts to Social Security and Medicare, Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA) said on MSNBC Wednesday, “Absolutely not.”
McConnell rejected Obama’s call for increased infrastructure spending and his push on climate change, instead noting that Obama didn’t mention the Keystone Pipeline or coal, which he called “proven and reliable.”
"The president spoke about energy infrastructure but didn't mention the Keystone pipeline,” McConnell said. “He chose the nation's biggest stage to promote something that's inefficient and costly, like solar panels, instead of something that's proven and reliable - and domestically produced - like coal.”
McConnell and House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) also dismissed Obama’s call to increase the minimum wage to $9 an hour. It’s something Obama said was necessary given that someone working full time at $7.25 an hour, the current minimum wage, would only make $14,500 a year. The minimum wage has been flat since 2009.
"He spoke of workers' minimum wages, instead of their maximum potential,” McConnell said.
“When you raise the price of employment, guess what happens? You get less of it,” Boehner told reporters Wednesday. “At a time when American people are asking, ‘Where are the jobs?’ why would we want to make it harder for small employers to hire people.”
He added, “Our goal is to get people on that ladder and help them climb that ladder so they can live the American dream. And a lot of people who are being paid the minimum wage, are being paid that because they come to the workforce with no skills, and this makes it harder for them to acquire the skills they need in order to climb that ladder successfully.”
NBC's Kelly O'Donnell and Frank Thorp contributed to this report.
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