Local members of Congress preview State of the Union


by Joe Arnold


Posted on February 12, 2013 at 7:45 PM

Updated Tuesday, Feb 12 at 8:01 PM

LOUISVILLE, Ky (WHAS11) -- In what is regarded as one of the most important speeches of his presidency, local members of Congress say President Obama needs to not only set an agenda but a tone for his second term.
"I think its important the few months that follow an election are where parties come together and try to reach for some common solutions," U.S. Senator Dan Coats (R-Indiana) told WHAS11.  "that kind of dissipates as we go along. So, I think the speech tonight is very, very important more so in tone and style than in content."

Republicans worry Obama may double down on an inaugural address they saw as red meat for his base.

"I sure hope not," said Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) in a Tuesday morning floor speech.  "The campaign is over."

After brokering the fiscal cliff deal with the Obama administration, McConnell says the president also needs to come to the table.

"If the President really wants a 'balanced' approach, now's the time to show his hand on the spending cuts and reforms he'll accept. That's how compromise works," McConnell said.

"The question is, is he willing to reach across the aisle," Coats added.  "We saw the debate on the fiscal cliff, very provocative statements from the president against Republicans and it didn't help the situation.  So tonight is an opportunity to I think reach across the aisle and let's work together and see what we can get done."

while Republicans want the president to focus on spending cuts, he is expected to pivot to job creation.

"I think we will hear kind of an elaboration of the themes that the President brought up in his inaugural address," said U.S. Rep. John Yarmuth (D-Ky 3rd Congressional District), "talking about the need to make important investments in education and research and infrastructure."

Coats dismissed that agenda.

"If the President continues to just talk about needing more taxes and even demonstrates that, 'Well, we're going to invest in infrastructure and invest in the future,' We've been down that road," Coats said.  "We've seen the stimulus not really do what it was intended to do. We have seen the President get his taxes through the fiscal cliff.  The real talk now and the real focus now needs to be on how we control this out of control spending if we want to get our country back on a fiscal healthy position."

"We have budgetary problems. We have fiscal issues.  We can approach them in a way which is not immediately disruptive," Yarmuth told WHAS11.  "and that's a point we have to continue to make."

"Yeah, we need to slow down the rate of spending, yes we need to generate some additional revenues," Yarmuth continued.  "It doesn't mean we need to do it tomorrow or the next year."

"Every time I listen to a speech from the president, he's conflicted.  He says things that are pro-growth, pro jobs and then he talks about more spending," said U.S. Rep. Thomas Massie (R- Ky 4th Congressional District).

Massie said he is most looking forward to Kentucky Senator Rand Paul's tea party response.

"I expect him to be consistent as he always is," Massie said.  "to talk about economic freedom, personal liberty, and keeping government within the bounds of the constitution."

"I'd like to humbly suggest once again that it's time for the President to reach out to Congress, including Republicans," McConnell said, "and make divided government work. That's how he'll actually address the issues Americans are most concerned about right now. It's the only way."