WASHINGTON — Republicans dismissed President Obama’s State of the Union address as more of the same, saying his call for renewed investment in American education, infrastructure and technology is simply a push for another round of federal spending that shows little commitment to reducing the deficit.

“Whether sold as ‘stimulus’ or repackaged as ‘investment,’ their actions show they want a federal government that controls too much; taxes too much; and spends too much in order to do too much,” said Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, in the GOP’s official address following Obama’s speech. “We believe the days of business as usual must come to an end. We hold to a couple of simple convictions: Endless borrowing is not a strategy; spending cuts have to come first.”

Ryan’s address was part of an unusual two-pronged retort to the president’s speech. Rep. Michele Bachmann of Minnesota also delivered a response – on behalf, she said, of the tea party. Bachmann chairs the House Tea Party Caucus.

“For two years President Obama made promises just like the ones we heard him make tonight,” Bachmann said, according to prepared remarks. “Yet we still have high unemployment, devalued housing prices and the cost of gasoline is skyrocketing.”

Not every prominent Republican ripped the president. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the Senate minority leader, welcomed Obama’s support for a five-year freeze on federal discretionary spending.


“I like the fact that he wants to do something about spending,” McConnell said. “However, freezing government spending for five years at the increased levels of the last two years is really not enough. We need to reduce domestic spending substantially. And I hope the president will work with us to achieve that.”

McConnell said that the president’s posture appeared to have shifted in light of the gains the GOP has made in the House and Senate.

“It sounds to me like the president’s changed the tone and the rhetoric from the first two years,” he said. “And I think that’s an appropriate adjustment in the wake of last year’s election, when the American people said basically they want to go in a different direction.”

In his response, delivered immediately after Obama’s address, Ryan strongly denounced the fiscal course of the Obama administration and Democratic Congress over the past two years.

He did acknowledge his own party shares responsibility for the growing debt and that Americans are justifiably “skeptical of both political parties.” Going forward, he said, the nation should hold Republicans accountable.

To that end, he pointed to action the Republican-controlled House has already taken, first to cut its own budget and on Tuesday to revert spending to 2008 levels. Further reductions are an “imperative,” Ryan said.

“We are at a moment where, if government’s growth is left unchecked and unchallenged, America’s best century will be considered our past century,” Ryan said.


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