President Barack Obama delivered his sixth State of the Union address of his presidency last night. Much of the 61-minute speech centered around the economy, and the address drew mixed reviews from the audience. For the first time in his tenure the Commander-in-Chief spoke to a Congress controlled by Republicans, including Mississippi Sen. Roger Wicker.
“As you can imagine, I wasn’t thrilled with the President’s laundry list of new spending and basically free stuff he’s advocating we pass,” Wicker said. “We have a huge debt problem and a huge spending problem in the U.S. We need to tighten up what we are already spending and the President is offering up more than we can afford.
“The President delivered more of the same types of themes from years past – bigger government, higher taxes, and more spending.”
During the speech, there were 85 pauses for applause according to the White House’s website. The breaks in time did not sit well with Sen. Wicker.
“I got tired of the dueling ovations,” he said. “I wanted to sit down and listen to the president but at times it seemed as if he was taunting the Senate and House into whether to stand or not.”
The President cited numerous statistics during the speech, some of which have been called into question as “cherry-picked” or “exaggerated.” Sen. Wicker raised an eyebrow to the President’s numbers on the unemployment rate.
“Thirty-eight percent of eligible workers have dropped out of the workforce. That’s why it appears better than it is. People have quit looking and trying to find jobs. We need better jobs and better-paying jobs. So much of what (Obama’s) administration has been doing has been a drag on job creation.”
President Obama addressed the widening divide between the two parties, and called for the two to “appeal to each other’s basic decency instead of our basest fears.” While Wicker agreed with the premise, he felt it was out of place from the rest of the speech.
“That’s awfully hard to argue with. I wondered if this was the same speech I’d been listening to for the previous 55 minutes,” he said. “It just seemed like a very contentious speech where he was playing the audience, not at all seeming to respond to voters’ concerns from the election, trying to move the ball further and further to the left. Then it seemed like another speech writer took over for the two sides to work together, and I wish we could return to that. I have a history of doing that.”
Sen. Wicker did agree with a few talking points from the speech: building on trade, an increase in infrastructure, improving disease research, and working together in a divided government to close tax loopholes. The senator also saw some areas of the speech that pertain to Mississippians, namely agriculture appreciation and the NASA program.
“I was pleased to hear the President embrace returning to man-space light. Anything that is blasted off from the U.S. must first be tested here in Mississippi. To that extent, I would like to get back to man-space exploration.”
In all, Sen. Wicker maintained his belief that President Obama is falling short in repairing the nation’s economy.
“The President seems to be a lot prouder of this economy than most Americans. The truth is it’s a very weak recovery ruled by two things: the use of energy, and the internet as a huge engine of economic growth. What growth we have is basically in spite of all the burdens of regulations on small businesses and job creators that the President has created. We have a long way to go before the economy is humming again.”
Michael Quirk is a HottyToddy.com staff reporter and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.