GOP lawmaker: The state of the union is not strong

Greg Nash

Rep. Andy Barr (R-Ky.) said Tuesday that President Obama's big-government agenda has weakened the nation, a comment that may find some footing among other Republicans as they head toward the mid-term elections.

"Five years after this President took office, the state of the union is not strong," Barr said on the House floor. "But instead of admitting that his policies have failed, the President offers more big government and more class warfare."

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Obama said during his State of the Union address that, "It is you, our citizens, who make the state of our union strong."

But Barr said statistics over the last five years tell the story of an economy in which more people live paycheck-to-paycheck, and millions of people have been forced to leave the workforce. He said the median income has fallen since 2008, and more are living in poverty than ever before.

"The poor are worse off today than they when President Obama took office," he said. "Nearly seven million more Americans live in poverty today as compared to 2008."

Like other Republicans have in the last few weeks, Barr criticized Obama for pushing government solutions aimed at making unemployment more tolerable, extending unemployment benefits.

"We should stop thinking small in this country. We don't need minimum wages, we need maximum wages," he said. "We don't need more unemployment insurance and government dependency, we need jobs and self-sufficiency."

Democrats have argued for the last few weeks that Congress needs to take steps to address income inequality, including by raising the minimum wage. Just before Barr spoke, Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-Va.) said the wealthy continue to do see gains that outpace the gains of the middle and lower class.

"Many of the colleagues on the other side of the aisle have shown little or no interest in the consequences of our country becoming so sharply divided on wealth," he said of Republicans.

But Barr said the best prescription is for Washington to "get out of the way." He suggested replacing ObamaCare with patient-centered reform, a comment that was made just after the Congressional Budget Office said ObamaCare will slow growth and kill millions of jobs over the next decade.

Barr also suggested tax reform that rewards savings and investment, and repealing the Dodd-Frank financial reform law.