Dueling SOTU responses: Rand Paul and Marco Rubio
In comparing Marco Rubio’s response to the State of the Union address (here), and Rand Paul’s (below), several thoughts occur right away.
First, the Republicans have a deep bench for 2016. Both of these men are sluggers. The Democrats will try to destroy them both, and Obama will devote far more effort to scoring political points against them, and against the Republicans, than he will to solving the nation’s troubles. Whether those efforts will be successful or not remains to be seen, but it seems unlikely. Both of these fellows may already be too strong, and too impressive.
Rubio is charming and handsome. His personal story is compelling. Rand Paul is not quite as “Central Casting” as Marco Rubio, but when it comes to straight talk, he’s at the head of the pack.
Rubio’s speech was terrific. It hit all the right notes. Where it shone the most was in the personal narrative, but it was solid all the way through.
Paul’s speech was excellent as well. Paul will never feel as smooth and charming as Rubio, but his remarks themselves did have an advantage over Rubio’s. Don’t get me wrong, Rubio’s response was excellent, but it also had what a lot of such political speeches have: turns of phrase that sound terrific, but require a moment of mental unpacking to truly understand. It’s a consequence of the art of speech-writing. Speechwriters want their work to sound amazing—and it does make for eloquent addresses—but there are times when bluntness is more effective. Paul’s speech seemed a lot more blunt, and as a result, more readily cogent.
“I speak to you tonight from Washington, D.C. The state of our economy is tenuous but our people remain the greatest example of freedom and prosperity the world has ever known.
People say America is exceptional. I agree, but it’s not the complexion of our skin or the twists in our DNA that make us unique. America is exceptional because we were founded upon the notion that everyone should be free to pursue life, liberty, and happiness.
For the first time in history, men and women were guaranteed a chance to succeed based NOT on who your parents were but on your own initiative and desire to work.
We are in danger, though, of forgetting what made us great. The President seems to think the country can continue to borrow $50,000 per second. The President believes that we should just squeeze more money out of those who are working.
The path we are on is not sustainable, but few in Congress or in this Administration seem to recognize that their actions are endangering the prosperity of this great nation.
Ronald Reagan said, government is not the answer to the problem, government is the problem.
Tonight, the President told the nation he disagrees. President Obama believes government is the solution: More government, more taxes, more debt.
What the President fails to grasp is that the American system that rewards hard work is what made America so prosperous.
What America needs is not Robin Hood but Adam Smith. In the year we won our independence, Adam Smith described what creates the Wealth of Nations.
He described a limited government that largely did not interfere with individuals and their pursuit of happiness.
All that we are, all that we wish to be is now threatened by the notion that you can have something for nothing, that you can have your cake and eat it too, that you can spend a trillion dollars every year that you don’t have.
I was elected to the Senate in 2010 by people worried about our country, worried about our kids and their future. I thought I knew how bad it was in Washington. But it is worse than I ever imagined.
Congress is debating the wrong things.
Every debate in Washington is about how much to increase spending – a little or a lot.
About how much to increase taxes – a little or a lot.
The President does a big “woe is me” over the $1.2 trillion sequester that he endorsed and signed into law. Some Republicans are joining him. Few people understand that the sequester doesn’t even cut any spending. It just slows the rate of growth. Even with the sequester, government will grow over $7 trillion over the next decade.
Only in Washington could an increase of $7 trillion in spending over a decade be called a cut.
So, what is the President’s answer? Over the past four years he has added over $6 trillion in new debt and may well do the same in a second term. What solutions does he offer? He takes entitlement reform off the table and seeks to squeeze more money out of the private sector.
He says he wants a balanced approach.
What the country really needs is a balanced budget.
Washington acts in a way that your family never could – they spend money they do not have, they borrow from future generations, and then they blame each other for never fixing the problem.
Tonight I urge you to demand a new course.
Demand Washington change their ways, or be sent home.
To begin with, we absolutely must pass a Balanced Budget Amendment to the Constitution!
The amendment must include strict tax and spending limitations.
Liberals complain that the budget can’t be balanced but if you cut just one penny from each dollar we currently spend, the budget would balance within six or seven years.
The Penny Plan has been crafted into a bill that millions of conservatives across the country support.
It is often said that there is not enough bipartisanship up here. That is not true. In fact, there is plenty.
Both parties have been guilty of spending too much, of protecting their sacred cows, of backroom deals in which everyone up here wins, but every taxpayer loses.
It is time for a new bipartisan consensus.
It is time Democrats admit that not every dollar spent on domestic programs is sacred. And it is time Republicans realize that military spending is not immune to waste and fraud.
Where would we cut spending; well, we could start with ending all foreign aid to countries that are burning our flag and chanting death to America.
The President could begin by stopping the F-16s and Abrams tanks being given to the radical Islamic government of Egypt.
Not only should the sequester stand, many pundits say the sequester really needs to be at least $4 trillion to avoid another downgrade of America’s credit rating.
Both parties will have to agree to cut, or we will never fix our fiscal mess.
Bipartisanship is not what is missing in Washington. Common sense is.
Trillion-dollar deficits hurt us all.
Printing more money to feed the never-ending appetite for spending hurts us all.
We pay higher prices every time we go to the supermarket or the gas pump. The value of the dollar shrinks with each new day.
Contrary to what the President claims, big government and debt are not a friend to the poor and the elderly. Big-government debt keeps the poor poor and saps the savings of the elderly.
This massive expansion of the debt destroys savings and steals the value of your wages.
Big government makes it more expensive to put food on the table. Big government is not your friend. The President offers you free stuff but his policies keep you poor.
Under President Obama, the ranks of America’s poor swelled to almost 1 in 6 people last year, reaching a new high as long-term unemployment left millions of Americans struggling and out of work.
The cycle must be broken.
The willpower to do this will not come from Congress. It must come from the American people.
Next month, I will propose a five-year balanced budget, a budget that last year was endorsed by taxpayer groups across the country for its boldness, and for actually solving the problem.
I will work with anyone on either side of the aisle who wants to cut spending.
But in recent years, there has been no one to work with.
The President’s massive tax hikes and spending increases have caused his budgets to get ZERO votes in both houses of Congress. Not a single Democrat voted for the President’s budget!
But at least he tried.
Senate Democrats have not even produced a budget in the time I have been in office, a shameful display of incompetence that illustrates their lack of seriousness.
This year, they say they will have a budget, but after just recently imposing hundreds of billions in new taxes, they now say they will include more tax hikes in their budget.
We must stand firm. We must say NO to any MORE tax hikes!
Only through lower taxes, less regulation and more freedom will the economy begin to grow again.
Our party is the party of growth, jobs and prosperity, and we will boldly lead on these issues.
Under the Obama economy, 12 million people are out of work. During the President’s first term 800,000 construction workers lost their jobs and another 800,000 simply gave up on looking for work.
With my five-year budget, millions of jobs would be created by cutting the corporate income tax in half, by creating a flat personal income tax of 17%, and by cutting the regulations that are strangling American businesses.
The only stimulus ever proven to work is leaving more money in the hands of those who earned it!
For those who are struggling we want to you to have something infinitely more valuable than a free phone, we want you to have a job and pathway to success.
We are the party that embraces hard work and ingenuity, therefore we must be the party that embraces the immigrant who wants to come to America for a better future.
We must be the party who sees immigrants as assets, not liabilities.
We must be the party that says, “If you want to work, if you want to become an American, we welcome you.”
For those striving to climb the ladder of success we must fix our schools.
America’s educational system is leaving behind anyone who starts with disadvantages.
We have cut classroom size in half and tripled spending on education and still we lag behind much of the world.
A great education needs to be available for everyone, whether you live on country club lane or in government housing.
This will only happen when we allow school choice for everyone, rich or poor, white, brown, or black.
Let the taxes you pay for education follow each and every student to the school of your choice.
Competition has made America the richest nation in history. Competition can make our educational system the envy of the world.
The status quo traps poor children in a crumbling system of hopelessness.
When every child can, like the President’s kids, go to the school of their choice, then will the dreams of our children come true!
Washington could also use a good dose of transparency, which is why we should fight back against middle of the night deals that end with massive bills no one has read.
We must continue to fight for legislation that forces Congress to read the bills!
We must continue to object when Congress sticks special interest riders on bills in the dead of night!
And if Congress refuses to obey its own rules, if Congress refuses to pass a budget, if Congress refuses to read the bills, then I say:
Sweep the place clean. Limit their terms and send them home!
I have seen the inner sanctum of Congress and believe me there is no monopoly on knowledge there.
If they will not listen, if they will not balance the budget, then we should limit their terms.
We are the party that adheres to the Constitution. We will not let the liberals tread on the Second Amendment!
We will fight to defend the entire Bill of Rights from the right to trial by jury to the right to be free from unlawful searches.
We will stand up against excessive government power wherever we see it.
We cannot and will not allow any President to act as if he were a king.
We will not let any President use executive orders to impinge on the Second Amendment.
We will not tolerate secret lists of American citizens who can be killed without trial.
Montesquieu wrote that there can be no liberty when the executive branch and the legislative branch are combined. Separation of powers is a bedrock principle of our Constitution.
We took the President to court over his unconstitutional recess appointments and won.
If necessary, we will take him to court again if he attempts to legislate by executive order.
Congress must reassert its authority as the protector of these rights, and stand up for them, no matter which party is in power.
Congress must stand as a check to the power of the executive, and it must stand as it was intended, as the voice of the people.
The people are crying out for change. They are asking for us to hear their voices, to fix our broken system, to right our economy and to restore their liberty.
Let us tonight let them know that we hear their voices. That we can and must work together, that we can and must re-chart our course toward a better future.
America has much greatness left in her. We will begin to thrive again when we begin to believe in ourselves again, when we regain our respect for our founding documents, when we balance our budget, when we understand that capitalism and free markets and free individuals are what creates our nation’s prosperity.
Thank you and God Bless America.”