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Obama questions McConnell's leadership

by Joe Arnold


Posted on January 27, 2010 at 11:29 PM

Updated Thursday, Jan 28 at 12:30 AM

President Barack Obama took direct aim at Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell in the State of the Union address Wednesday night, not questioning Kentucky's senior senator by name, but McConnell's mode of leading the Republican opposition to the Obama administration's agenda.

"If the Republican leadership is going to insist that sixty votes in the Senate are required to do any business at all in this town, then the responsibility to govern is now yours as well. Just saying no to everything may be good short-term politics, but it's not leadership," Obama said in the speech.

McConnell issued a written statement issued shortly after the address.

"I'm hopeful the administration's new focus on the economy will lead it to say no to more spending and debt, more bailouts, and more government,"  McConnell said in the statement.

The Hill reports that GOP lawmakers are demanding that Mr. Obama respect McConnell's leadership.

Centrist Republicans are still angry over Democrats’ efforts to rush healthcare legislation through the Senate before Christmas. In the Senate, they are demanding Obama reach out to Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) before trying to strike separate deals with individuals.

McConnell has repeatedly stressed to his conference the need to channel White House outreach efforts through his office.

“If the Democrats are serious, they ought to focus on McConnell, and that will require some substantial negotiations,” said centrist Sen. Richard Lugar (R-Ind.).

Statements from both Senators Mitch McConnell and Jim Bunning follow:

McConnell Statement on the President’s State of the Union Address

WASHINGTON, D.C. - U.S. Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell made the following statement Wednesday following the President’s State of the Union Address:

“The President is always welcome at the Capitol, especially at a time when there is so much important work to be done on behalf of the American people.

“The President talked about jobs tonight. This is a welcome change in focus after the President and his administration spent nearly an entire year pursuing a partisan health care plan that would have spent trillions of dollars we don't have rather than on a plan for getting Americans back to work. I'm hopeful the administration's new focus on the economy will lead it to say no to more spending and debt, more bailouts, and more government.

“The President's words about the importance of deficit reduction are timely. The times require that we build upon these modest proposals. Americans are concerned about what kind of country we will leave to our children. The administration could address this concern right away by directing unspent Stimulus and TARP funds to pay down the federal deficit, and it could implement a true spending freeze. It could also assure families and small businesses that their taxes will not go up at the end of the year, as currently planned.

“The administration could also reassure Americans who are still rattled by the attempted Christmas Day bombing by vowing to make a priority of preventing the next terrorist attack, not treating captured terrorists like common criminals so we can place them in a civilian court.  Americans have a right to find out everything captured terrorists know in order to prevent future terrorist attacks.

“Americans are concerned about government spending, debt, jobs, and keeping the homeland safe. They expect us to focus on these core issues until we get them right. In the year ahead, there is much work to be done, and the task before us is clear. We need to get Americans back to work and remain focused on keeping America secure and putting our nation back on the road to prosperity. Republicans look forward to working with the President on these shared goals.”


            WASHINGTON, D.C. -- U.S. Senator Jim Bunning (R-KY) offered the following comments regarding tonight’s address by President Obama to the joint session of Congress: 

            “In his State of the Union address tonight President Obama stressed the creation of jobs.  The President must first fix his own economic team by withdrawing the nomination of Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke and firing Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner.  Both have shown during the course of the last year that they favor Wall Street over Main Street.                                                                       
            “When the President took office, Kentucky’s unemployment rate was at 7.6 percent, and it is now at 10.7 percent.  The President’s policies have hurt Kentucky’s working families by not providing jobs as was promised in the so-called stimulus bill that passed early last year. In fact, the President’s so-called stimulus bill was a $1 trillion bust for the American taxpayer.  The effects of which will be felt by many generations to come.

            “We must continue the middle class tax cuts and not let them expire, as well as take a no-excuses approach to the federal government’s budget and cut out needless programs.  Putting a freeze on discretionary spending for the next three years is a step in the right direction, but it would have been better if the President had done this last year before accruing a $1.35 trillion debt during his first year in office.  At the core of the problem is entitlement programs and if the government does not figure out how to curb them then our national debt will continue to soar.”