On Tuesday night, President Obama will deliver his penultimate State of the Union address — and Republicans will immediately pan it as a horrific failure. Just like every other year.
While freshman senator Joni Ernst (R-IA) will deliver the GOP’s official response on Tuesday night, scores of other Republicans will take the opportunity to offer their own thoughts on the speech. But you won’t have to wait until Wednesday morning to find out what they’ll say; based on their responses to years of speeches by the president, we already have a pretty good idea of what’s coming.
Here are five ways that Republicans will attack this year’s State of the Union:
Why Isn’t He Talking About The Midterms?
In President Obama’s first press conference after the Republican Party dominated the midterm elections, he declined to focus solely on how badly Democrats had lost, or offer himself up as a scapegoat. This did not sit well with the right, to put it mildly.
Given that the president is expected to lay out a liberal vision for the rest of his presidency in Tuesday’s speech, it’s a safe bet that Republicans will remain outraged that the midterms didn’t cause him to pack his bags and leave the White House.
“The president is completely ignoring the will of the American voters, who turned out on Election Day and overwhelmingly elected people who wanted to change the direction of the country,” Senator John Barrasso (R-WY) complained in November. Expect to hear similar lines over and over again this week.
Many Republicans are sure to respond to the president’s progressive agenda with an old, reliable charge: Obama is dividing the nation.
“I see this as the president returning to the theme of class warfare,” Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-IL) told the New York Times in advance of the speech. “It may have been effective in 2012, but I don’t find it to be effective anymore. I think, frankly, he’s out of ideas if he is unwilling to work with Republicans, and I think he is unwilling to work with Republicans.”
Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT) echoed those comments in a speech to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
“This plan we’ll hear about tonight appears to be more about redistribution, with added complexity, and class warfare, directed at job-creating small businesses, than about tax reform,” he lamented.
Of course, it’s worth noting that if America is embroiled in a class war, then the rich are winning in a rout.
Build Keystone XL!
After President Obama lays out his plan for perpetuating the economy’s strong job growth, congressional Republicans will likely respond with their own jobs plan: building the Keystone XL pipeline.
“Fringe extremists in the president’s party are the only ones who oppose Keystone, but the president has chosen to side with them instead of the American people,” House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) recently said in response to the president’s pledge to veto any Keystone bill that reaches his desk. “This is simply another sign that President Obama is hopelessly out of touch and has no plans to listen to the American people or champion their priorities.”
As it turns out, most Americans agree with the president on the pipeline. And the project would not create the tens of thousands of jobs that Republicans often promise. But that hasn’t mattered to the GOP in the past, and it won’t on Tuesday, either.
Obamacare Is A Trainwreck!
At some point, President Obama is certain to mention the Affordable Care Act, the key domestic achievement of his presidency. After he does so, Republicans will remind America that the law is a horrible disaster that is destroying the nation.
“You can’t fix a fundamentally broken law; you’ve got to replace it,” Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) argued earlier this month, in a possible preview of the Republican response. “Ultimately, the law will collapse under its own weight.”
Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) went even further last week, calling the law a “train wreck” that has brought “devastation” to the nation, and cost millions of jobs.
As usual, the fact that none of this is actually happening will not factor into the rhetoric.
Where Are The Jobs?
For the past four years, House Speaker John Boehner has responded to just about everything that the president has said with one refrain: “Where are the jobs?”
He most recently deployed the line last week, right in the middle of the 58th consecutive month of private sector job growth. So it’s a pretty safe bet that we’ll hear it again after President Obama tells the American people that the State of the Union is strong.