The annual State of the Union Address is a great tradition and an excellent opportunity for the President to lay out his agenda to the Congress and more importantly to the American people. However, the agenda presented by the President during this year’s speech are out of sync with the clear message sent by voters in the November elections.
In electing Republicans to take control of the U.S. Senate, and to an historic majority in the House of Representatives, the American people rejected the President’s agenda of bigger government, higher taxes, more red tape, and enormous debt. The mandate was to change course; however, the President continues to argue for more of the same.
For example, the President called for massive tax increases to pay for more government programs and mandates. This plan is not serious because the President knows this would hurt our fragile economy, and has no chance of being passed in either the House or Senate. This proposal was simply a political stunt.
Meanwhile, I have been working with my colleagues on the Committee on Ways and Means to overhaul our outdated, uncompetitive, and unfair tax code. A plan which simplified the code would allow us to lower rates and reduce the massive cost of compliance, which would benefit our entire economy especially middle class families.
The President also used the address to promise more “free” giveaways to the American people such as two-years of community college. The House of Representatives has been working for years to reduce the costs of higher education, and to make it more affordable. Not only is the President’s plan unaffordable when our nation has more than $18 trillion in national debt, federal money is never “free” – there are always strings attached.
At a time when the American people want to reduce the role of government in their lives, this proposal would expand the grasp of federal education regulations further into higher education. The plan could also hurt college savings accounts which allow individuals to save for higher education tax free. About 65,000 Nebraskans currently use college saving plans. The President’s plan would tax these accounts in order to help pay for higher education for those who haven’t saved. This is incredibly unfair to those who have been responsible, and we must do better.
Nebraskans tell me they want Congress to work. They are tired of the politics of endless confrontation and showdown, and they expect their representatives to find common ground and agree on solutions. While I was disappointed the President focused his State of the Union on policies I believe divide us rather than bring us together, I am optimistic we can make progress on finding solutions during divided government.
By Cong. Adrian Smith