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We Need a New Approach in Washington

By Sen. John Thune

February 10, 2023

Our country continues to face serious challenges. Inflation is straining family budgets, especially at the grocery store. The prices for electricity, gas, and home heating have increased. Record numbers of illegal immigrants have come across the southern border. Lax law enforcement has caused crime to spike in cities. And rogue nations like Russia, China, Iran, and North Korea have been emboldened to test America’s resolve. But if you listened to the president’s State of the Union address, you wouldn’t have heard much, if anything, about these crises.

Over the past two years, Democrats have pushed through more than $4 trillion in new spending. The $1.9 trillion spending spree they passed in March 2021 helped create our current inflation crisis, which is costing South Dakota families nearly $750 a month. And the hundreds of billions of dollars Democrats have passed in tax hikes will further increase prices, especially on utility bills. Democrats’ spending has also contributed significantly to our rising national debt, yet what I heard from the president was proposals for even more spending, more taxes, more government, and more dodging Republicans’ good faith efforts to rein in out-of-control spending.  

The president’s speech was also strikingly light on a vision for our national defense, despite China’s recent blatant violation of U.S. airspace and continued trouble abroad, including Russia’s war in Ukraine and North Korea’s recent unveiling of an alarming number of ballistic missiles. And despite record numbers of illegal border crossings over the past two years, the president, during one of the longest addresses to Congress in American history, spent just one minute talking about our nation’s border crisis. He made no mention at all – not a single word – of the rise in violent crime we’re seeing in cities across the nation.

Throughout his speech, the president seemed to want to have it both ways. He wants to bring down inflation, but increase the spending that causes it. He celebrates American innovation, but wants to raise taxes and impose price controls. He wants to be tough on China, but lets the Chinese Communist Party get away with increasingly brazen actions. But he can’t have it both ways. We can’t spend our way out of inflation. We certainly can’t bury businesses in taxes and then expect them to lead the way in innovation.   

Republicans have solutions that can actually help bring down inflation, strengthen our economy, unleash the power of American innovators, and improve our nation’s security at home and abroad. We want to rein in spending to get inflation under control, unleash American energy production to bring down energy costs, and ensure our military, border patrol, and law enforcement have the resources and support they need to keep Americans safe. Any bipartisan work we do needs to move away from the failed policies of the last two years, and I hope the president will work with us to find consensus.

Forty years ago, another American president addressed Congress at a time when our nation was facing serious challenges. President Reagan worked to build consensus with Democrats and made real progress on solving the problems that our nation was facing. I believe this bipartisan approach can work again now. The president just has to be willing to pursue it.