Sessions Responds To State Of The Union Address

WASHINGTON—In response to President Obama’s State of the Union address, U.S. Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL), Ranking Member of the Senate Budget Committee, issued the following statement tonight:

“It was stunning how thoroughly and deliberately the president ignored the ominous threat hanging over this country—our surging $15 trillion debt. I stand ready, eager, and willing to work with the president on a real, honest agenda of government reform, but unfortunately, tonight’s speech was more campaign plan than reform plan. America is in stormy waters, but instead of mapping a course to calmer seas, the president is already focused on his next voyage.

President Obama has again crowned himself the champion of the middle class, but from his perch in Washington he cannot see that by growing the government he is actually shrinking the middle class. Who has received the benefit from the nearly $5 trillion he’s added to the debt—middle class Americans whose wages are falling, or political class elites with power and influence? When power centralizes in Washington, those with the most access—like Warren Buffett—stand to make the most profit.

The president talks of energy production, but he remains wedded to policies that have given billions to companies like Solyndra while blocking good-paying private sector jobs such as those that would have been created through the Keystone pipeline. He talks of standing up for American manufacturing, but despite encouraging talk on confronting China, he has yet to follow through, or to untie the endless red tape that is undermining our ability to compete. He talks about ‘fairness,’ but his health law has been a hammer blow to working Americans, with the average family of four watching their health expenditures rise at year’s end $2,400 from the day the law was passed. He talks about tax reform, but instead of delivering a bold growth plan he calls for tax hikes that will only bail out the big spenders.

I was disappointed that the president’s speech made no commitment to achieving meaningful deficit reduction beyond that which was enacted last year. Experts agree that $4 trillion in savings is a minimum—with almost $45 trillion in projected spending over the next 10 years, surely we can now achieve at least another $2 trillion in spending cuts. But it appears that the president believes about roughly $2 trillion in savings against as much as a $13 trillion projected debt increase represents the total cuts that are needed. Meanwhile, instead of using the overseas drawdown to reduce our enormous borrowing, the president plans to use half of it as new spending.

While long on generalities, the plan described in his speech doesn’t change the nation’s dangerously unsustainable debt path. He proposes no real action to put Social Security and Medicare on sound footing, or to reform the often overlooked $800 billion in other entitlement spending—including $700 billion in federal welfare spending—which hasn’t been seriously addressed in years.

Most fundamentally, the president did not rise to the moment in facing the great challenge of our time. In this, perhaps his last chance to rally the public behind needed fiscal reform, he once again failed to look the American people in the eye and tell them truth about America’s enormous debt and the depth of change we need. One cannot make a nation ‘built to last’ on borrowed money.”