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McConnell: Public ‘hungry’ for substance

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellFormer OMB pick Neera Tanden to serve as senior adviser to Biden Lawmakers reach agreement on bipartisan Jan. 6 commission The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Masks off: CDC greenlights return to normal for vaccinated Americans MORE (R-Ky.) predicted Tuesday that President Obama’s State of the Union address will set the tone for the next two years, saying Americans are “hungry for substance and accomplishment.”

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He warned Obama that a speech devoted to rallying the Democratic Party’s base would dampen the prospects for enacting bipartisan legislation before the 2016 election.

“Tonight is a big moment for the president and for our country,” McConnell said on the Senate floor. “The tone he strikes and the issues he highlights will tell us a lot about what to expect in his presidency’s final act.”

Republicans say they hope Obama will try to engage with them on free-trade legislation and tax reform and have expressed alarm that the president is instead touting tax and fee increases on wealthy families and banks and free community college for millions of lower- and middle-income students.

“The American people aren’t demanding talking point proposals designed to excite the base, but not designed to pass,” McConnell said. “What they said they’re hungry for is substance and accomplishment.”

He said Obama should call for bipartisan jobs initiatives such as authorization of the Keystone XL pipeline, reforms to extend the solvency of Medicare, and lay out a plan aimed at balancing the budget.

He urged the president to propose “realistic” reforms that can pick up GOP backing instead of grand social programs such as providing free college education that “spend more money we don’t have.”

“We need to turn the page. The State of the Union offers that opportunity,” he said.