Missouri Legislators Split Along Party Lines In Address Responses

After a State of the Union Address in which President Barack Obama called for bipartisan cooperation on issues including the budget, health care and job creation, reactions to the president’s talk from Missouri legislators were largely divided along party lines.

Rep. Sam Graves (R-Tarkio), chairman of the House Small Business Committee, said in a statement that “Washington has a spending problem, not a revenue problem” and that the president’s tax policy stifles business growth.

Rep. Sam Graves | Photo courtesy of Graves' office

“The President is not listening to small businesses,” Graves said. “As the NFIB reported today, small business owners’ confidence is among the lowest ever in nearly four decades of the survey. The President’s vision of an even larger federal government takes the country even deeper into debt, and doesn’t provide confidence to consumers or entrepreneurs.”

Sen. Marco Rubio, a Florida Republican, hammered the president on taxes and spending in the official GOP response, and several of Missouri’s Republican lawmakers did the same in releases Tuesday night.

“We have the opportunity to grow our economy, keep our teachers, doctors, and soldiers employed while securing the future of our country,” Rep. Vicky Hartzler, R-Harrisonville, said in a statement.

“Washington can help Americans expand their opportunities,” she added, “without burying our children and grandchildren under a mountain of debt.”

Rep. Ann Wagner, R-Ballwin, said it’s time for the country to break away from what has become the “new normal” in recent years.

“It’s time we start investing in nurses, teacher, carpenters, businesses and stop giving taxpayer paid bailouts to Washington that only result in higher taxes and more debt,” Wagner said in a statement.

Like Graves, Rep. Emanuel Cleaver, D-Kansas City, used the address to shine a light on small business. Cleaver’s guest Tuesday was Kansas City Councilman Scott Taylor, whom Cleaver praised in a statement as “a tenacious advocate for small business in Kansas City.”

Sen. Claire McCaskill | Photo courtesy of McCaskill's office

“We have made progress,” Cleaver said before Tuesday’s address, “but we can and must do more to keep our economy and our small businesses going strong.”

Republican Sen. Roy Blunt said in a statement that having the nation’s capital divided between a Republican-controlled House and Democrat-controlled Senate and White House provides an opportunity to “solve big problems.” But, Blunt added, the president didn’t do that in Tuesday’s address.

“This was the eighth time in four years the president said ‘It’s now time to focus on the economy.’ Darn right it’s time to focus on the economy — and on private sector jobs that pay the bill,” Blunt said.

Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill attended the address with Sen. Deb Fischer, a Nebraska Republican, and in a statement released afterward echoed some of what the president said about working across the aisle to create jobs.

“Missouri needs those jobs [in every sector of the economy], and our families and businesses need economic certainty,” she said. “But we get nowhere without bipartisan compromise, and elected officials have got to give a little, so everyone can get a lot. That’s why I’m personally committed to continuing my work with Republicans and Democrats to cut more spending, clean special goodies out of the tax code, and continue to boost job opportunities.”

See the Kansas City Star for the full text of President Obama’s speech and the full text of Sen. Rubio’s response.

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