WASHINGTON -- Republicans warned Tuesday that President Barack Obama’s second-term agenda would bring more tax increases and escalate deficit spending, casting the president’s policies as impediments to middle-class families he championed during his re-election campaign.
Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, in his Republican response to Obama’s State of the Union address, said he hoped that the president would "abandon his obsession with raising taxes" and pursue policies that would foster economic growth and help middle-class families achieve prosperity.
"Presidents in both parties -- from John F. Kennedy to Ronald Reagan -- have known that our free-enterprise economy is the source of our middle-class prosperity. But President Obama? He believes it’s the cause of our problems," Rubio said.
Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, in a separate tea party response, cast blame on both parties, saying "Washington acts in a way that your family never could -- they spend money they do not have, they borrow from future generations, and then they blame each other for never fixing the problem."
The two speeches helped frame how Republicans responded to Obama’s first State of the Union address of his second term and tried to shape the agenda at a time of divided government. Obama’s first term was marked by clashes with Republicans in Congress over the role of government, deficits and spending cuts, and both sides were using their addresses to offer prescriptions for rejuvenating the economy.
Rubio, a rising star in the Republican party and a potential 2016 presidential contender, pointed to his Miami roots to address Obama’s frequent portrayal of Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney -- and his party -- as only caring about the wealthiest Americans. Rubio said he still lived in the "same working-class neighborhood I grew up in" and his neighbors "aren’t millionaires" but retirees, workers and immigrants.
"The tax increases and the deficit spending you propose will hurt middle-class families. It will cost them their raises. It will cost them their benefits. It may even cost some of them their jobs. And it will hurt seniors because it does nothing to save Medicare and Social Security," Rubio said.