Some Republicans and Democrats chose to ignore custom and sit together bipartisanly in the House Chamber rather than be seated by party.
Freshman Congress man Jeff Duncan had little interest in the location of his seat for the address.
“When the federal government is 14 trillion dollars in debt, there are more important things to worry about than who you’re sitting with at the State of the Union,” Duncan said.
President Obama spoke about the need to work together, stating “the American people determined that governing will now be a shared responsibility between parties. New laws will only pass with support from Democrats and Republicans.”
Duncan said he appreciated the President being more open to working with Republicans but remained skeptical.
“The President campaigned two years ago on focusing his attention on job creation, but for two years his interests have been the government takeover of health care, empowering unions and regulating energy consumption.” Duncan said. “I sincerely hope the President got the message from the American people in November and will join me in advocating for significant cuts to government spending.”
While President Obama made some concessions on spending reductions, he also tried to ward off cuts to traditionally popular programs among Democrats.
“As a country we can’t spend our way out of debt” Duncan said. “The people of South Carolina want to see a real focus on lowering the national debt and getting spending under control. I’m just not sure if the President’s idea of ‘significant’ spending reductions matches up with the expectations of the American people.”
Senator Jim DeMint found little positive in the president’s speech.
“Tonight’s speech should have been called a State of the Stimulus, and the President should have admitted that it failed,” DeMint said. “Two years after the President’s nearly trillion dollar government stimulus, unemployment has increased and remains high, families and businesses are still struggling, and our national debt continues to skyrocket.”
DeMint questioned the President’s call for investment in the economy.
“When the President says ‘investment’ he means bigger federal government and higher taxes,” DeMint said. “Americans sent a clear message in the 2010 elections. They no longer wish to ‘invest’ in President Obama’s big-spending plans.”
DeMint said that cuts are needed instead of new taxes.
“Instead of growing the federal government, Washington should reduce its control and devolve education and transportation programs to the states that are better handled at the local level,” DeMint said.
DeMint said just “freezing” spending is not enough.
“The President spoke of a spending freeze, but we need spending cuts,” DeMint said. “Not a freeze at record high spending levels. When you’re in a car recklessly speeding toward a cliff, you don’t hit cruise control. You slam on the brakes and reverse course.”
DeMint said a good place to start is by repealing the controversial “ObamaCare” package.
“If President Obama is serious about fixing our nation’s fiscal problems and his call for bipartisanship, he should start by joining Republicans in repealing the partisan ObamaCare law,” DeMint said. “This government takeover of health care is a threat to our economy and to our nation’s health.”
DeMint said the best way to enforce reasonable spending is require a balanced budget.
“The President should also endorse a commonsense Balanced Budget Amendment to require Congress to stop the runaway spending.,” DeMint said.”Congress will never get its fiscal house in order until we are forced to by law.”
DeMint is optimistic that changes can be made.
“Our nation is still the best and most exceptional on earth,” DeMint said. “But America’s greatness is in our freedom and empowerment of the individual, not in the size of government bureaucracies. I hope the President and all Washington politicians heed the call of the November elections that our government must do less, not more.”