In the tea party response to President Obama’s State of the Union address, Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, said Americans who “work hard and play by the rules” are frustrated with a lawless Washington, and the tea party’s goal is to lower the level of influence it has over citizen’s lives.
“You are probably as frustrated as I am about an ever-growing government that somehow thinks it is OK to lie to, spy on and even target its own citizens. Many hard-working Americans are discouraged and wondering what, if anything, can be done,” Lee said.
Lee’s answer is for Americans to work together to get the government they really want.
“I believe we need to do what Americans have always done – come together and press for positive change. Protesting against dysfunctional government is a great American tradition, going back to the original tea party in Boston, about 240 years ago. Americans have a natural instinct to stand up and speak out when they know something is wrong,” he said.
“In 1773, Americans had simply had it with a London-based national government that had become too big, too expensive and far too intrusive,” Lee said.
Lee noted that the Founders didn’t stop with a Boston protest.
“It is important to note, however, that had the founding generation stopped at just protesting against the kind of government Americans did not want, the Boston Tea Party would have been little more than a footnote in history. At most, it would have been remembered as just one more futile protest against an abusive national government,” Lee said.
He said the road was long, but one that brought about great results.
“It took them 14 long years to get from Boston to Philadelphia, where they created, with our Constitution, the kind of government they did want.”
The real movements focus on their goals, not simply criticizing what’s wrong, he emphasized.
“In America, the test of any political movement is not what that movement is against, but what it is for. The Founders made a point at Boston Harbor, but they made history in Philadelphia’s Independence Hall,” Lee said.
He said that many Americans place the blame where it belongs, at the feet of the federal government.
“Today, Americans know in their hearts that something is wrong. Much of what is wrong relates to the sense that the ‘American Dream’ is falling out of reach for far too many of us. We are facing an inequality crisis – one to which the president has paid lip-service, but seems uninterested in truly confronting or correcting,” Lee said.
Lee said there are three parts to the inequality issue:
- Immobility among the poor, who are being trapped in poverty by big-
- Insecurity in the middle class, where families are struggling just to get
by and can’t seem to get ahead;
- And cronyist privilege at the top, where political and economic insiders
twist the immense power of the federal government to profit at the expense of everyone else.
He said the Republican establishment shares the blame.
“To be fair, President Obama and his party did not create all of these problems. The Republican establishment in Washington can be just as out-of-touch as the Democratic establishment,” Lee said.
He said many of the nation’s problems aren’t because of bad government. The problems are created by the government.
“But where does this new inequality come from? From government – every time it takes rights and opportunities away from the American people and gives them instead to politicians, bureaucrats, and special interests,” Lee said.
The Utah Republican said President Obama has been long on promises but short on actual delivery.
“Throughout the last five years, President Obama has promised an economy for the middle class; but all he’s delivered is an economy for the middle-men,” Lee said.
The tea party, he said, has sent an energetic group of leaders to Washington that he believes have the answers.
“We have a new generation of leaders in Washington with positive, innovative ideas – thoughtful policy reforms to, as my friend Sen. Ted Cruz says, make D.C. listen.”
In his speech to Congress, Obama said the nation has seen a period of growth and recovery.
“Today, after four years of economic growth, corporate profits and stock prices have rarely been higher, and those at the top have never done better. But average wages have barely budged. Inequality has deepened. Upward mobility has stalled. The cold, hard fact is that even in the midst of recovery, too many Americans are working more than ever just to get by – let alone get ahead. And too many still aren’t working at all,” he said.
“Our job is to reverse these tides. It won’t happen right away, and we won’t agree on everything. But what I offer tonight is a set of concrete, practical proposals to speed up growth, strengthen the middle class, and build new ladders of opportunity into the middle class. Some require congressional action, and I’m eager to work with all of you. But America does not stand still – and neither will I. So wherever and whenever I can take steps without legislation to expand opportunity for more American families, that’s what I’m going to do,” Obama said.
In his response, Lee said that he and his conservative colleagues have proposed bills to reform criminal justice, education, colleges, roads and bridges.
Lee also said he’s introduced a bill to reform the income tax.
“One proposal that should directly help you and your family is a bill I have introduced to simplify our tax code, and provide relief from the hidden double-tax Washington currently imposes on working parents, especially moms and dads in the middle class,” Lee said.
Obama, in his address, said Congress should pass immigration reform. In response, Tea Party Express Chairman Amy Kremer tweeted: “President Obama, we have immigration laws on the books now that you don’t enforce. Let’s secure the border and support our agents.”
She also said the State of the Union address sounded like a campaign speech.
In the speech, Obama said he would act unilaterally with executive orders on immigration and the minimum wage paid to federal contract workers.
Kremer told WND in an interview that Congress needs to take a stand.
“This president is the divider-in-chief. This whole speech was nothing more than a campaign speech full of buzz words. If he acts without Congress, Congress needs to act on behalf of the Constitution and the people,” Kremer said. “This is a lawless administration that needs to be stopped.”
On stopping the executive orders she said, “Congress needs to use every tool they have available.”
See full coverage of Barack Obama’s 2014 State of the Union: