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Newslinks for Wednesday January 26, 2011

Posted on 01/26/2011

5:00pm Video: "If they haven't noticed we're broke": Representative Jeff Flake responds to state bankruptcy proposals, commenting that although waivers should be granted in certain instances, it is not Washington's responsibility to bail them out

4:15pm The Republican: What They're Saying: Unimpressed, freshman lawmakers share their thoughts on the SOTU

2:00pm Video: "I found his suggestion on spending reduction completely inadequate": Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell reflects on President Obama's SOTU address

12:45pm The Republican: The CBO's "wake-up call" had to wait until the day after the SOTU?

12:30pm Big Ideas: Republicans lend their support to National School Choice Week

10:00am Video: In an interview discussing the impact of union pensions on state deficits, Charles Krauthammer says that "the only way out is going to be a form of bankruptcy which will release [states] from obligation"



Platform: Part 4 of Dr. David Gratzer's series on the future of the GOP battle with Obamacare: the "12 cent problem"

Video: Tim Pawlenty, in pre-SOTU interview, calls on Obama to apologize for mistakes

Full transcripts and audio of Obama, Ryan and Bachmann - NPR

Key themes of Obama's State of the Union address

  • Active government: "The speech was a defense of the active use of government to prepare the country for the long-term challenge of global competitiveness, through spending on education, infrastructure, alternative energy and other projects." - Washington Post
  • Global competitiveness: "Mr. Obama said the nation needs to address its rising budget deficit but couldn't afford to back away from new spending on programs that he said would allow the U.S. to compete with rising powers like China and India—an approach Republicans were quick to reject as unaffordable. Mr. Obama also laid out areas of potential cooperation between the parties, such as a call to rewrite the corporate tax code." - WSJ
  • Tax reform: "Obama said the current corporate code is hurting American companies that are trying to compete and called on members of both parties to hammer out the first major tax reform since 1986." - The Hill
  • ObamaCare: Obama insisted he’ll fight any efforts to repeal or otherwise block his signature healthcare law - Politico

Obama's budget numbers in SOTU didn't add up - Bloomberg

What did Obama mean by "Sputnik moment"?

Sputnik1_technician "The Soviet launch of a basketball-size object called Sputnik in October 1957 served as a wake up call for a relatively fat and happy United States. The U.S. was then between wars in Asia, building stylish gas-guzzling cars for a swelling middle class, gambling in Havana, and generally feeling pretty good about the future. The surprise of Sputnik - the world's first Earth-orbiting satellite made by man - reminded Americans there was a big, brash alternative out there and it was a lot smarter than anyone had thought... Obama is hoping to prod the country toward greatness here on Earth, in the fields of clean energy technology, high-speed trains, and scientific innovation, among other things, to increase the country's economic competitiveness. Rising economies in Asia provide the threat and possibility this time around, and Obama, much like Eisenhower half a century ago, wants the country to wake up." - Washington Post

  • "Sputnik was about pure, raw technological skill, in an area where we felt vulnerable at the time. It had nothing to do with what made America exceptional." - Rand Simberg for NRO
  • "President Obama’s announcement on Tuesday that “this is our generation’s Sputnik moment” came across as puzzling. Had al Qaeda sent a suicide bomber into space? But it turned out to be just a clumsy metaphor. The first Sputnik launch in October 1957 is a now distant event that no longer arouses passion. It would be as if someone described the Watergate scandal as that generation’s Teapot Dome." - Washington Times editorial

The SOTU responses from Paul Ryan and Michele Bachmann

"Some Republicans worried that two rebuttals to the president’s State of the Union address Tuesday night might weaken the party’s message on the heels of his big speech. But GOP leaders can breathe easy because the messages from Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann and Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan were largely the same: President Barack Obama has driven up the deficit while failing to stem unemployment – and his new health-care law is bad." - Washington Wire

John Poheretz at Commentary gives Ryan top marks for his response and suggests he is president material: "Maybe it would be wiser for a 41-year-old like Ryan to wait until 2016. But this speech reminds us that the deep bench of younger politicians — with Ryan and Marco Rubio and Chris Christie and Bobby Jindal and Nikki Haley, among many others — really belongs to the GOP." (Also see Jennifer Rubin's booster of Ryan).

Screen shot 2011-01-26 at 10.15.21 Erick Erickson at Red State was more impressed with Bachmann: "Paul Ryan’s speech was okay. His blood shot eyes and Eddie Munster, Jr. haircut could have used some work. But he was good. Michelle Bachmann, however, shined in an easy to understand speech with a common man touch."

NPR gives Bachmann low marks. At the New York Times, Ross Douthat witnesses "The Politics of Evasion" from Obama and Paul Ryan.

Comment on Obama's SOTU and the GOP responses

President Barack Obama works on his State of the Union Speech with Director of Speechwriting Jon Favreau in the Oval Office, Jan. 24, 2011. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza).

Screen shot 2011-01-26 at 09.31.50

  • Deficit lite: "The American people want spending cuts. In his State of the Union address, Obama proposed to freeze discretionary domestic spending – a fraction of overall spending – for five years to save $400 billion. Compared to the $3 trillion he added the national debt in the past two years and the trillions more projected over the next 8 years, this is a miniscule amount." - Fred Barnes at the Weekly Standard
  • Where's the urgency?: Clive Crook at the FT (£) agrees: "This was not the speech of a president focused, as Mr Obama should be, on the country’s fiscal condition. He expressed concern about it, but no great sense of urgency. The thrust of the speech, in fact, pushed the other way."
  • Wrong on healthcare: "[Obama] is unwilling to rethink a health-care plan that is likely to add to the country’s economic burdens: increasing insurance premiums, reducing wages, raising taxes, and adding to the national debt. Obama’s economic strategy is a high-speed train to nowhere." - NRO
  • Old hat: Mike Gerson in the Washington Post sees little movement from Obama: "Paul Ryan and many Republicans believe that America has entered a fiscal emergency that 
requires a fundamental reconsideration of the role of government. Obama disagrees. His proposals on the deficit broke little ground. His five-year spending freeze resembles his three-year spending freeze from last year's State of the Union speech. His support for higher taxes on
the wealthy dates from his primary campaign."
  • Pro-government: Obama's SOTU speech was a bold defense of government's role in spurring innovation, supporting research, and promoting education - E J Dionne, Washington Post
  • Same old Obama: The BBC's Mark Mardell notes Obama's "sheer defiance" in supporting continuing government spending.
  • The European model: "At one point, President Obama noted that countries in Europe invested more in roads and railways than we do. Modeling ourselves after Europe isn't exactly a sound strategy when you consider the fiscal state of Europe is more perilous than our own." - Aaron Goldstein for the American Spectator
  • Long-term vision: "With this speech, Obama reached back to the themes of 2008, and of the primary campaign that stretched back in 2007. It wasn’t just the constant gestures of outreach to Republicans, starting with his recognition of new Speaker John Boehner. It was also the focus on the economy’s long-term difficulties—decaying infrastructure, an insufficiently educated workforce, too much debt. This was not a speech about boosting growth for 2011. It was a speech about boosting growth for 2021. And beyond." - Jonathan Cohn for the New Republic
  • Will Obama deliver?: Charles Hurt at the New York Post welcomes Obama to the "Conservative Party" - focusing on his promises on free trade, spending restraint and tax reform but concludes: "Will Obama actually follow through and lead his party to join Republicans to lower the corporate tax rate, dramatically cut the deficit and finally put an end to the political pork spending that politician after politician has proved is the "gateway drug" to corruption? A glance at his record does not leave much room for hope."
  • Bipartisan: "While disappointedly vague in many respects, tonally it was just right. There weren't many moments when one party's members cheered ostentatiously while the others examined the seat back in front of them." - USA Today
  • Foreign policy-lite: Obama's State of the Union address thin on foreign policy - Jackson Diehl in the Washington Post

Many lawmakers broke the tradition of sitting with their own parties at the State of the Union address

Screen shot 2011-01-26 at 09.30.45

The New York Times has a graphic of Congress' Kumbayah moment.

Senator Ben Nelson wants to end partisan seating forever: "Sit not by party but by state or by alphabet or in some other way" - Roll Call

House Republicans call for tougher action on spending and UN reform

"The Republican-controlled House, hours before the State of the Union address, passed a resolution Tuesday calling for more drastic and immediate cuts in domestic spending than envisioned by President Barack Obama in the speech." - WSJ

"Arguing that the United States can no longer blindly turn over billions of dollars to the United Nations, members of the House Foreign Affairs Committee said the new Congress should withhold contributions to the global body until it adopts serious reforms." - Washington Times

Boehner John Blue Shirt Boehner, Lieberman call for restart of DC school vouchers - Fox

Other politics in brief:

  • Christie hosts Romney for dinner at NJ governor’s mansion - Hot Air
  • "Former Virginia Sen. George Allen (R) is running against history as he makes a bid for his old seat in 2012: Just one former Senator in the past 50 years was defeated after serving a full term and then elected again to the chamber." - Roll Call
  • Talent won't run for Senate in Missouri - Politico
  • Meg Whitman misses California's election post-mortem - WSJ


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