In his response to President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address that focused heavily on “inequality,” Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) slammed Obamacare as “an inequality Godzilla,” symbolizing an administration that has favored Washington, D.C. while purporting to fight for America’s middle class.
In an address sponsored by the Tea Party Express on Tuesday, Lee spoke for “those individuals and families who work hard, play by the rules, balance their budgets, honor the Golden Rule, and don’t understand why their government in Washington can’t do the same.” He said these Americans “may feel they have been forgotten by both political parties.”
“Today, Americans know in their hearts that something is wrong,” he said. “Much of what is wrong relates to the sense that the ‘American Dream’ is falling out of reach for far too many of us. We are facing an inequality crisis–one to which the President has paid lip-service, but seems uninterested in truly confronting or correcting.”
Lee said this “inequality crisis presents itself in three principal forms,” and Republicans in Washington’s permanent political class can be just as out of touch as Democrats:
Immobility among the poor, who are being trapped in poverty by big-government programs; insecurity in the middle class, where families are struggling just to get by and can’t seem to get ahead; and cronyist privilege at the top, where political and economic insiders twist the immense power of the federal government to profit at the expense of everyone else.
Lee, who represents a Tea Party movement that formed in part against the big-government programs of President George W. Bush, acknowledged that, “to be fair, President Obama and his party did not create all of these problems. The Republican Establishment in Washington can be just as out-of-touch as the Democratic Establishment.”
But he slammed Obama for promising an “economy for the middle class” while delivering an “economy for the middle-men.”
“Government-driven inequality is the reason why, as hard-working families across the country struggle to make ends meet, six of the ten wealthiest counties in America are now suburbs of Washington, D.C.,” he said. “And tonight [Obama’s] party cheered as he asked for more of the same, as if the solution to inequality were. well, more inequality.”
Lee slammed Obama for covering up the fact that he was leaving Americans behind with “lofty rhetoric” and then asked, “But where does this new inequality come from?”
“From government–every time it takes rights and opportunities away from the American people and gives them instead to politicians, bureaucrats, and special interests,” he said.
Lee continued by saying that “real inequality” is “trapping poor children in failing schools to benefit bureaucrats and union bosses. It’s penalizing low-income parents for getting married, or getting better jobs. It’s guaranteeing insurance companies taxpayer bailouts if Obamacare cuts into their profits.”
“And of course, Obamacare–all by itself–is an inequality Godzilla that has robbed working families of their insurance, their doctors, their wages and their jobs,” he said. “Many Americans are now seeing why some of us fought so hard to stop this train-wreck over the last four years.”
Lee continued, saying inequality “is blocking thousands of middle-class jobs in the energy industry as a favor to partisan donors and radical environmental activists”; “denying viable, unborn children any protection under the law, while exempting unsanitary, late-term abortion clinics from basic safety standards;” and “denying citizens their right to define marriage in their states as traditionally or as broadly as their diverse values dictate.”
He said that government increases inequality by hurting “rural communities, especially in the west, by controlling and mismanaging public lands” and “changing laws without congressional approval, and spying on American citizens without constitutional authority.”
Lee said Washington has a new generation of leaders like Sens. Ted Cruz (R-TX), Rand Paul (R-KY), Tim Scott (R-SC), Marco Rubio (R-FL) that want to push “reforms to help poor families work their way into the middle class, to help middle-class families start to get ahead, and to level the playing field and put corporate and political insiders back to work for the rest of us.”
He listed ideas regarding poverty, criminal justice reform, improving K-12 education, modernizing higher education, and bills to simplify the tax code to “provide relief from the hidden double-tax Washington currently imposes on working parents, especially moms and dads in the middle class.”
“This new generation of reformers still has a long way to go to win over our Party in Washington, and even further to go to earn your trust,” Lee said before noting that he was ultimately “confident that our best days as a nation are ahead of us–not because of government, but because within America’s diverse society of individuals and families, neighborhoods and churches, businesses and communities, freedom doesn’t mean you’re on your own.”
He said that since its founding, the “test of any political movement” in America has been “not what that movement is against, but what it is for.”
“The founders made a point at Boston Harbor, but they made history in Philadelphia’s Independence Hall,” Lee said. “As Americans we must always be willing to fight the Boston-type battles–boldly calling out bad policy whenever we see it–but we must do so with an eye toward Philadelphia, maintaining a positive focus on the kind of nation we want to be and become.”