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Thune Reacts to President Biden’s State of the Union Address

“I do think this moment, with power split between Democrats and Republicans, provides a real opportunity to work together – to move away from the extreme partisanship of the past couple of years and make some real progress on some of the issues facing us.”

February 9, 2023

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WASHINGTON — U.S. Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) today discussed President Biden’s State of the Union address and some of the areas where Republicans and Democrats can find common ground in a divided Congress to address the issues facing the country.

Thune’s remarks below (as prepared for delivery):


“Mr. President, on Tuesday President Biden delivered his State of the Union address to Congress.


“And in this time of divided government, I was glad to see the president making more than one nod to bipartisanship.


“I do think this moment, with power split between Democrats and Republicans, provides a real opportunity to work together – to move away from the extreme partisanship of the past couple of years and make some real progress on some of the issues facing us.


“But the president’s speech also left me concerned.


“Because the president demonstrated almost no awareness of what has actually happened as a result of his policies.


“Indeed, at times it seemed as if the president had lived through a different reality from the one most Americans have been experiencing over the past two years. 


“The president rattled off a list of his supposed economic achievements.


“I say supposed, because he left out some vitally important context.


“He claimed credit for historic job creation, while leaving out the essential detail that a lot of that job creation was simply a result of the economy naturally adding back jobs temporarily lost during the pandemic.


“He talked about wage growth, while leaving out the fact that real wages have declined over his presidency.


“And he appeared to take credit for the fact that inflation has declined somewhat in recent months, while neglecting to mention that it was his administration and congressional Democrats who helped create our inflation crisis with their American Rescue Plan spending spree.


“Nor did the president spend any time discussing just how bad inflation still is, and how much Americans are still suffering.


“Inflation in December was 6.5 percent.


“The last time inflation was that bad was in 1982.




“FORTY years ago.


“I’m glad inflation has declined somewhat, but I don’t think the president has a lot to be congratulating himself about.


“Even if prices stopped increasing tomorrow, Americans would still be paying thousands of dollars more over the next year to achieve the same standard of living they had when the president took office. 


“And, again, the president and congressional Democrats – and their American Rescue Plan spending spree – bear a huge part of the responsibility for this situation. 


“Or to quote former Obama economic adviser Jason Furman: ‘The original sin was an oversized American Rescue Plan.’


“Mr. President, another of the supposed economic achievements the president talked about on Tuesday night was cutting the deficit.




“Cutting the deficit.


“Well, let me just quote CNN on that claim: ‘Independent analysts say Biden’s own actions, including his laws and executive orders, have had the overall effect of adding to current and projected future deficits, not reducing those deficits.’


“Let me just repeat that, Mr. President.


“‘Independent analysts say Biden’s own actions, including his laws and executive orders, have had the overall effect of adding to current and projected future deficits, not reducing those deficits.’


“Mr. President, the president failed to meaningfully address the economic crisis that his policies have helped create.


“Instead he spent considerable time calling for spending proposals that would cost taxpayers trillions of dollars. 


“He also failed to meaningfully address another crisis that’s been raging over the past two years – the security and humanitarian crisis at our southern border.


“It’s a crisis that the president has spent two years ignoring – and Tuesday night he essentially ignored it again.


“In a speech that was notable for being the most wordy State of the Union in the past six decades – clocking in at 9,191 words – the president devoted just 120 words – approximately one minute – to immigration.


“And he spent a good chunk of that minute attempting to suggest that it is Congress, and not he himself, that needs to act.


“In fact, the president’s brief 120 words on immigration managed to convey the impression that the president has been trying to secure the border all along, instead of reflecting the reality that the president ignored this crisis – a crisis he himself triggered – for two years and only began to somewhat acknowledge it a mere month ago. 


“The president’s speech was also strikingly light on a vision for our national security – despite a war of aggression from Russia, which has made its imperial ambitions very clear, and continued troubling activity from China.


“There wasn’t even a mention of Iran, which continues to be the leading state sponsor of terrorism, or North Korea, which just unveiled an alarming quantity of ICBMs.


“The president devoted just nine words to the importance of modernizing our military, even though the past year – and, indeed, the past week – has underscored the necessity of making sure our military is the top fighting force in the world so that we can deter – and, if necessary, confront – any threat.


“Mr. President, while the president’s speech was light on immigration and national security solutions – and on any recognition of the economic crisis the president’s policies have helped create – one thing his speech was not light on was the Democrat playbook of taxes and spending.


“The president kept bringing things up and encouraging Congress to ‘finish the job.’ 


“It quickly became clear that that was code for ‘spend more taxpayer dollars.’


“Or maybe ‘expand government.’


“Even though it was excessive government spending that helped get us into this inflation crisis in the first place.


“But if there was one thing that became clear Tuesday night, it was that the president wants to have it both ways.


“He wants to cut the deficit, but simultaneously expand government.


“He celebrates Made in America, but in nearly the same breath demonizes businesses.


“He wants to boost American innovation, but he also wants to raise taxes and impose price controls.


“Perhaps no example of this wanting to have it both ways was more telling than the president’s clear belief that oil companies should increase domestic oil production despite the fact that the president campaigned on eliminating fossil fuels.


“The president recounted an exchange with oil industry representatives who told him that they were reluctant to invest because they were concerned that the president would shut down oil wells and refineries.


“The president clearly intended the anecdote to illustrate the selfishness of Big Oil or big business.


“But the anecdote did a much better job of illustrating just how outrageous it is that the president assumes he should be able to get as much oil production as he wants while simultaneously working to sunset oil companies.


“Mr. President, the president might like to have it both ways.


“But he can’t.


“Policies have consequences.


“Spending has consequences.


“Taxation has consequences.


“And the result of the big-government, tax-and-spend policies the president laid out Tuesday night would not be the prosperous future he imagines but more economic pain for American families and businesses.


“And any bipartisan work we do over the next two years needs to move away from the failed policies of the past two years and toward a more fiscally responsible future.


“The upcoming debt limit debate represents an outstanding opportunity to take a good, hard look at government spending and see how we can handle taxpayer dollars more responsibly.


“I was disappointed that despite his calls for bipartisanship, the president decided to call for a “clean” debt limit increase Tuesday night – in other words, an increase in the nation’s credit card limit unaccompanied by any effort to stop adding to our bill.


“The president’s attitude was all too reminiscent of Democrats’ partisan my-way-or-the-highway approach over the past two years.


“And I hope he’ll rethink that position.


“I was also disturbed by the president’s attempt to suggest – falsely – that Republicans are interested in paying for the debt limit increase by cutting Medicare and Social Security.


“I suspect the president is well aware that that is not the position of the Republican Party.


“And his scaremongering was not reflective of the kind of bipartisanship I hope we can achieve over the next two years.


“What Democrats and Republicans should be doing is working together to put Medicare and Social Security on a more secure financial footing going forward.


“And that would be greatly helped by addressing excessive government spending and working to rein in our national debt.


“Mr. President, I appreciated the fact that despite trotting out far too many of the same old tax-and-spend policies Tuesday night, the president did make a real nod toward bipartisanship.


“And I truly believe we can do a lot together over the next two years – from passing a farm bill, to reauthorizing the Federal Aviation Administration and improving our nation’s air traffic control system, to creating new market access for American producers and securing more transparency and accountability from Big Tech.


“I hope that the president’s words in support of bipartisanship will be borne out by his actions in the coming months – and that working together, we can build a record of achievement that will help make life better for the American people.


“Mr. President, I yield the floor.”