January 22nd, 2013
09:22 PM ET
5 years ago

Back at work, Republicans assess Obama's address

(CNN) - If it's a honeymoon period, they might order separate rooms.

"One thing that is pretty clear from the president's speech yesterday: the era of liberalism is back," Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said of President Barack Obama's inaugural address, which he called "unabashedly, far left of center."

Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee, fired back: "Let's look at what Mitch McConnell's scowl was all about."

On the first work day of Obama's term – though he officially took the oath on Sunday, Monday was dedicated to ceremony and celebration – members of both parties called for unity, but it was clear the divisions which were present last week did not heal themselves over the weekend.

Each party has laid out priorities for the next hundred days: Republicans want to pass a budget which balances within 10 years, and Democrats are pursuing reform to immigration and gun laws. But there are also concerns of immediate importance to the economy, including the debt ceiling, sequester and a resolution funding the government.

Washington began to confront those realities Tuesday, with Republicans saying Obama had missed an opportunity to bring them onboard with his inauguration address.

Rep. Paul Ryan, the 2012 Republican vice presidential candidate, said Obama had pulled a rhetorical "switcheroo" when he said entitlements such as Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security "do not make us a nation of takers."

"No one is suggesting that's what we call our earned entitlements – entitlements you pay for, like payroll takes for Medicare and Social Security – are putting you in a 'taker' category," Ryan said on the Laura Ingraham radio program. "Earned entitlements, where you pay your payroll taxes to get a benefit when you retire like Social Security and Medicare, are not taker programs, and I think when the president does kind of a switcheroo like that, what he's trying to say is that we are maligning these programs that people have earned through their working lives."

Instead, Ryan said, Obama employed "kind of a convenient twist of terms to try to shadowbox a straw man to try to win an argument by default, is essentially what that rhetorical device is he uses over and over and over."

Rep. Peter King of New York, who on Monday said Obama's address suggested "he wants to get a little revenge," was more moderated on Tuesday, saying the president could have done more to bring in Republicans.

"I think he should have done more to say there's honest disagreement. There's honest disagreement, we have strong views. Let's try to find more of a common ground," King said on CNN. "He didn't really acknowledge the honest disagreement."

King sounded similar tones as Sen. Tom Coburn of Oklahoma, who said on MSNBC of Obama: "He did fine."

"I think he missed some opportunities to pull the country together. But a lot of his words were good words for the country to hear," Coburn said.

McConnell blasted both the president's speech and the platform he advocated in it.

"If the president pursues that kind of agenda obviously it is not designed to bring us together and certainly not designed to deal with the transcendent issue of our era which is deficit and debt," the Kentucky Republican said.

But Wasserman Schultz argued Obama's platform was mainstream.

"The president talked in his inaugural address yesterday about making sure that we can continue and finish the journey for Americans on the long march toward equality," she said. "That everyone, including LBGT Americans, should have an opportunity to be equal around the law and get that equal protection under the law. That women should be able to get equal pay for equal work. That we should make sure that we finally pass comprehensive immigration reform, so immigrants to this country have a rational way to actually remain here. And that we focus, finally, on climate change."

"All of those things are real problems, real issues that need to be addressed, and if the Republicans think that those are issues that won't unify the country, they clearly weren't listening during this last campaign," she said.

Rep. Louie Gohmert of Texas said on the Fox Business Network that Obama "has been arrogant at times. I hate to say it, but sometimes dismissive, even derisive, and there were those kind of comments in this."

Several of the Republicans who spoke Tuesday were ready to move beyond the inaugural address and see how the political atmosphere would reform. Among them was House Speaker Newt Gingrich, who had his own share of fiscal showdowns with a Democratic president in the 1990s.

"Don't let Obama sucker you into him getting to say positive things and you going 'No,'" Gingrich said on CNN, offering his advice to House Speaker John Boehner. "I think it's very important for us to be the party that has dramatically better solutions to the future, not a party that simply wastes its energy fighting Barack Obama."

When Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin spoke on Fox late Monday, he was not only looking to Tuesday, but the days beyond it.

"Days like this are always very uplifting, but the rubber hits the road in the next couple days," he said. "I think for the 30 states that have Republican governors, we're hoping we got a president that's willing to work with the states, give us some authority to act on behalf of the taxpayers."

soundoff (29 Responses)
  1. Ancient Texan

    Was there ever any doubt? You could not listen to what he was saying, but watch what he was doing and what might accidently slip out in an unguarded moment.

    January 22, 2013 09:44 pm at 9:44 pm |
  2. Danial Farooq

    The GOP House majority very timely announced increase of debt ceiling increase for next three months . The leaders of Democrats' majority in Senate have accepted to do their part on , GOP House plan on budget . Rather than political gamesmanship , and do nothing strategy that created in 112th Congress , gridlocks , stalemates , and sequestrations ' on debt ceiling increase , debt and deficit reduction issues , this is a huge strategy in rgiht direstion . A revival of normal budget process in 113th Congress , would allow a historical window of opportunity of great beginnings . These deliberations' could soon open the doors for agreements on a long term deal on a broad national agenda items to end years of uncertainty for business investments , programs for economic growth and prosperity programs for the middle class , led by jobs creation , rebuilding infrastructure programs , and ending poverty and economic in equality .

    January 22, 2013 09:50 pm at 9:50 pm |
  3. S.B. Stein E.B. NJ

    Will the GOP actually bother to mask their problems with Obama or come out with them in a way that would show that they understand the need for compromise. WIthout compromise, there can be nothing done.

    January 22, 2013 09:54 pm at 9:54 pm |
  4. Peter Gerdeman

    Sen McConnell, you and the Republicans in Congress had four years to figure out a civil way to work ahead. And nowhere in those four years did any of you do so. Now, after the second successful election of a democrat, and black person, you and your party seemed stunned. You and your party has lost, and more than just elections. You all have lost the intellectual discussion and instead have come out as unabashed bigots. Either get on with the business you were elected – or resign. And gather your kind and look for a new place to live – for sir, you are not an American.

    January 22, 2013 10:12 pm at 10:12 pm |
  5. whognu

    The modern GOP calls the President an extremist? Pot, meet kettle. I fondly remember a sane Republican party and wish they would return and restore some balance to the equation. Until then, I'm an Independent. We need two strong, sane parties. Too bad we don't have them right now, which is why we have stagnant chaos.

    January 22, 2013 10:12 pm at 10:12 pm |
  6. CraigRB

    Did anyone really expect the Republicans to like the speach?

    January 22, 2013 10:22 pm at 10:22 pm |
  7. plain&simple

    These so called leaders of the republican party remind me of what the captain of the Titanic must have been like.....oblivious! Those that do get it are ridiculed and pushed out by the flashy headline seekers who love ,love the attention their insane comments bring them. Look at Michelle Bachman if you doubt or Rick Perry to name a couple. You know the future is bleak when Newt is the voice of reason. So full speed ahead to the democrats and keep pursuing the goals to bring reason into this irrational time in our history. We live in a very interesting age to be sure.

    January 22, 2013 10:37 pm at 10:37 pm |
  8. Ron

    Well, right! To talk about equal rights and opportunity for all Americans, equal pay for equal work, protecting our environment for future generations, and not cutting social security for our elders, to Republicans all of this is "too liberal."

    January 22, 2013 10:42 pm at 10:42 pm |
  9. Deb in MT

    You've gotta love these GOPers whining about 'where's the bipartisanship?' and 'where's the hands across the aisle?'

    Here's a clue for you, GOP: President Obama spent the past 4 years reaching across the aisle to you, only to have you bite his hands every time. You had your chance to demonstrate good will, and the desire to work together for the common good (maybe even compromise), but you decided to try to make President Obama a one termer, even if the country had to suffer.

    It didn't work. You lost, again. So, tough cookies: it'll suck to be you.

    January 22, 2013 11:09 pm at 11:09 pm |
  10. Rogue351

    The GOP, Tea Party "Conservatives" had better revamp they're thinking and quickly. America is not going to stand by for another four years of a do nothing congress just because the GOP "HATE" Obama. Making everyone else suffer because they are not in control will NOT win the next election. Hating gay and lesbian people, Hating and discriminating against black people. And don't for one minute say you're not. If you are taking money from the NRA and the KKK claims the GOP as their party you are backing hate against black people. Standing behind any political figure that discriminates against woman, again another sign of HATE associated with the GOP. It is so rampant that Mitt had "binder of women". The fact that he brought that up off the cuff shows just how clueless the GOP , Tea Party is. Now lets look at who Pat Robertson endorsed and his most recent comments. Lets also take a look and how the "Religious Right" has covered up the molestation of children in churches. Last be certainly not least lets take a look at how many guns are on the streets of our nation, how did they end up there ? You are 100% correct, they where stolen. Stolen from responsible gun owners. Or sold to criminals by responsible gun owners. Does this sound responsible ? NO. Had the owners of these guns actually been responsible they would have secured their weapons and NOT let them into the hands of the criminals. Now these same "Responsible" gun owners want a do over. They want to once again have a gun free for all because they are responsible. They must have learned responsibility from George Bush. The GOP, after siding with the Wall Street banks to steal nearly everyones equity in their home and investments also say, we as Americans, a first world nation. Should not have health care. We should not help disaster victims. We should deregulate the banks and let the poor die in the street. They also want to reenforce religion in government, who's religion would that be GOP, Tea Party ? The GOP, Tea Party sounds more and more like the Taliban each and every day. They rage against science claiming the world is only 6000 years old. Member of their party protest our fallen soldiers at funerals. Religion is more important to them than truth, honesty, compassion. Enough with the GOP, enough with the Tea party. Enough with the guns and the hate. The GOP had better change its tune quickly because they are not on the path to any sort of reelection. Exactly who was it that sent most of the jobs over seas forcing both parents into working as apposed to one staying home and taking care of the children ? Who wants to get rid of the unions so the billionaires can make more money while middle class America along with the family unit falls apart ? And exactly who was in charge of the United States when the divorce rates sky rocketed, the GOP. But, Glenn Beck, Limbaugh and Hannity will get on the radio and TV every day and tell you they are doing the right thing and the left, the liberals are evil. And you believe them. You, the responsible gun owners, the Religious Right. The America the GOP, Tea Party wants for you is fear, war and more fear. If you are afraid you will vote for them. If a tyrannical government was to emerge it most certainly would not be from the left. Look in the mirror at the fear and hate mongering your party promotes. It is time to open your eyes, stop burring your head in the sand clutching your gun and bible. Grow a spin and stand up and vote the GOP, Tea Party back to the kind of America that is free, fair, excepting and not just tolerating.

    January 22, 2013 11:12 pm at 11:12 pm |
  11. Quad 50 pkm

    No matter how hard mr obama tries the orange man ryan and the gop will still voice there hate and try to bully him what is the use

    January 22, 2013 11:12 pm at 11:12 pm |
  12. Dan5404

    Surprise, surprise! No matter what Obama said, the GOP would not like it. And, why should he call for any bipartisanship from a party that has no intention to help him or the country do anthing, just like the last four years.
    The only thing is, they lost the election and they are now seriously divided among the right and the extreme right. They also only have a 26% approval rating, with the entire congress having 19% and the Tea Party 23%. With most people not approving of their policies, their representatives need to think about serious compromise or risk losing their jobs. They should seriously look at changing their polices and image by working with the Democrats to come up with common sense tax reform, a balanced approach to paying down our debt witrh spending cuts that make sense, plus more revenue. Unless the experienced old hats take control away from the ultra-right extremists, their Party is in real danger. They should not rely on cheap political ploys like extreme gerrymandering (such as the low-life trick pulled in the Virginia Senate on MLK day with no warning because they knew a Democraitic Senator would be at Obama's inauguration) and trying to evade the electoral system. Those are clearly designed to minimize and suppress the Democrats and the minorities at the ballot box. Just like 2012, but it didn't work. Maybe they should do it the old-fashioned way: come up with policies that help most Americans and eliminate their long-standing alienation of minorities and women. That's how you win votes, not by underhanded manipulation and constitutionally questionable
    partisan antics.

    January 22, 2013 11:17 pm at 11:17 pm |
  13. MJ

    GOP, get over it

    January 22, 2013 11:31 pm at 11:31 pm |
  14. Rogue351

    The GOP claims Obama is too liberal and too aggressive. This has been the GOP, Tea Party mode of operation. If they, the GOP are accused or being to fanatical or aggressive they simply turn it around and say the exact same thing about the Democrats. The GOP Tea Party minions then on radio and TV then add in the fear. The talk of death camps, the nation falling apart or an armed rebellion. Take anything the GOP says about the democrats, turn it around and 9 times out of 10 they have done the same thing themselves. They are hypocritical narcissistic, war and power mongers that have the full intention of dragging this nation down as far as they can until the people submit to their will and vote them back into office. And the entire time they will be telling you how bad it is going to get if Obama stays or another Democrat wins. How about leading via example instead of fear. How about the congress doing something that actually helps people apposed to nothing just to block the president. They have the majority why are they not using it for good ? Why is it every time a GOP or Tea Party or Religious right member speaks it is HATE, such as praying for the death of our president. How can anyone in any office believe on any level this would be good for America. How can they twist their religion that is supposed to be used for good to pray for such a horrible out come for our country. I guess the GOP Tea Party can do this exactly the same way they condone rape. Or hatred and discrimination toward gay people, Black People, Hispanic people and women. On one hand you, the Responsible gun owners want us Democrats to believe you are speaking the truth and on the other hand you turn around and vote with a party that holds these values, NOT VERY RESPONSIBLE. Not very responsible at all seen as you are the very ones that put the guns in the hands of the criminals. You the Responsible gun owner that let your weapon be stolen by a criminal or sold directly to a criminal. How else did these guns get on the streets and into the hands of the criminals ? The democrats did not distribute them to each criminal as they left prison. Or drop a truck load of them off in a poor area of any town USA. No the guns where sold to "responsible" gun owners and they failed at being responsible. Now they want a do over because of a document that mentioned "Arms" that was written when the only "Arms" available fired one bullet every 30 seconds. Not 1000 bullets every minute, big difference. Again the monumental ignorance and total disregard for the United States of America and the human race put forth by non other that the GOP and the Tea Party.

    January 22, 2013 11:36 pm at 11:36 pm |
  15. J.V.Hodgson

    As a Democrat President Obama is and always will be in Republican eyes a " liberal". He is entotiled in his " inauguration speech to set out views that he perceives his leadership believes in and how that is to be considered.
    He is "entitled", I choose "entitled" deliberately to set out his view of the future things he would like to see the country embrace.
    In the State of the Union soon to come, that is the time to start judging Obama's political strategy and whether he is being An Ultra left of center liberal or the pragmatist is often depicted as being.
    From various Republicans he is now arrogant, dismissive, derisive, imperious and then prior to this inauguration the cry was lacking leadership. Talk about catch 22 nonsense this is the epitomy.
    Republicans keep quoting he only won 51 /52% of the vote. I believe that to be inaccurate and yet they are never challenged.

    January 22, 2013 11:37 pm at 11:37 pm |
  16. Squigman

    Address this. Your party is (for all intent and purpose), can fade into oblivion. No one will miss you except your corporate minions and the wealthy that you so hold in high esteem.

    January 23, 2013 12:52 am at 12:52 am |
  17. norma jean

    McConnel says. "Liberalism" is back....well,, it will certainly get us a lot farther ahead that "Obstructionisn did!!!!! ...He's been so "far right of center " that he really doesn't know where he is!!!..... now we have old looser Paul Ryan taking pot shots at the president again....but unfotunately for him ...they are falling on deaf ears....we've heard them all before and we aren't listening to Ryan anyway!!!!!..He is SO yesterday...........he and his "makers" and "takers" along with Romneys 47%"...losers ...both of them!!! Get lost boys!!!

    January 23, 2013 12:58 am at 12:58 am |
  18. AK_steve

    What the GOP is calling liberal is in reality what the majority of Americas call their beliefs and morals. The President hasn't moved to the left – the GOP has moved to the right... the very far right.

    January 23, 2013 01:19 am at 1:19 am |
  19. basedonfact

    The only address they should assess is 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. Respect the office

    January 23, 2013 01:52 am at 1:52 am |
  20. stranger in an increasingly strange land

    Wow, the Democrats won a resounding victory in the election and Republicans were surprised that they weren't asked to contribute more to the inauguration. Lets go back to George Bush the seconds inaugurations. Did they include Democratic opinions or viewpoints--NO. Did they include big name Democrats at their lavish, black tie soirees-NO. Did they even allow, minorities, gays, non-Christians or anyone who can't afford a good country club membership to help formulate their policies-NO.
    I am amazed that the Democrats didn't treat them better. Oh wait, the Democrats asked some of the Republicans to participate, but the Repblicans were all rearranging their sock drawers or writing position papers saying Democratsa are going to lead us to LIBERAL HELL.

    January 23, 2013 02:23 am at 2:23 am |
  21. 2020

    Yes, for 30 years, human dignity was chipping away, man is for himself, freedom at all cost, even have to step on his own mother's head. That period is gone, should be, and ought to be.

    Thank God. Finally, there is a president, a leader who cherish human dignity, equality, bring back an attitude that "you are my brother, you are my sister", the rebirth of a nation's conscience.

    GOP is the left over of the ego-lism. Let it be gone, forever.

    January 23, 2013 04:32 am at 4:32 am |
  22. Ken Mark

    How about if Republicans work with Democrats and give them most of what they want on gun control and immigration and democrats work with republicans and give them most of what they want on balanced budget? A: We will have progress on 3 important items to better the country.

    January 23, 2013 04:56 am at 4:56 am |
  23. bonjourno


    January 23, 2013 05:06 am at 5:06 am |
  24. Name lynn

    now obama ball is over, obama swearing on the stack of bible is over, its on now for the republicans, the white house leaders, an boehner. Its really time for the fiscal budgets bills to get right, an amoung other bills to pass in the white house with or without the white house approvel.

    January 23, 2013 05:14 am at 5:14 am |
  25. Anonymous

    Spend spend spend that's all that socialist Obama knows. Now is the time for the conservatives to band together and demand an end to Socialism in this country. We can start by shutting down the government until the idiot liberals understand
    we can't spend money we do have.

    January 23, 2013 05:50 am at 5:50 am |
1 2