The state of our union is strong, or so President Barack Obama told the world in the 2014 State of the Union address. With new ideas for increasing earnings, especially for low wage earners, focusing more on education, ending the gender pay gap and even coming up with alternative retirement savings plans, you would think he had it all covered.
However, the President wasn’t the only one to weigh in on America’s successes and opportunities. What once was a simple opposing party rebuttal speech has now turned into a free for all of alternative State of the Union retorts. As the right has grown more fractured, multiple wings of the GOP have grabbed the microphone for a follow up. Also vying for more attention? The uterus.
Yes, that’s right, it’s a “State of the Union Rebuttal” roundup!
The Mainstream: The official Republican State of the Union response was provided by Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, a congressperson from Washington state. By having a woman provide the response, the GOP no doubt felt that it would soothe the “war on women” rhetoric that has become a Democratic party talking point, and one that was subtly referenced by the President who said we needed to end “Mad Men era workplace policies.”
Rep. Rodgers does that beautifully, especially when she claims that “Republicans believe health care choices should be yours, not the government’s.” Of course, she was referring to opting out of Obamacare, not reproductive care like abortion or birth control, which the Republican House voted once more to restrict just a few hours before her speech. She reminds the audience that the GOP wants an “America that is every bit as compassionate as it is exceptional,” but doesn’t mention the fight to reduce SNAP benefits or their refusal to extend unemployment insurance for the long term unemployed.
Still, she closes with a prayer and blessing, so, maybe someday the party will live the compassion they give so much lip service to.
The Far Right: The Tea Party began its own State of the Union rebuttal memorably with Rep. Michele Bachmann, a speech remembered more for her literal wide-eyed delivery than any actual policy. This year, Utah Senator Mike Lee received the honors.
In his speech the Senator literally harkens back to the Boston Tea Party, encouraging those frustrated with the government to protest it. He even speaks of income inequity and other issues that were key in the President’s own address. However, despite being a “non-Republican party” speech, every concern he points to, from gay marriage to abortion to school choice and health care, is a straight GOP talking point, and every person he says is working on a solution to it is of course a member the Republican party.
Best line of the night? The Affordable Care Act is allegedly responsible for economic “inequality.” “Obamacare – all by itself – is an inequality Godzilla that has robbed working families of their insurance, their doctors, their wages and their jobs,” said Sen. Lee.
Yes, because nothing creates inequality like no longer potentially being bankrupted by catastrophic medical bills.
The Even More Far Right: So the GOP got to rebut. And the Tea Party got to rebut. But no one asked Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul what he thought, so he did a rebuttal of his own. Most of it involved balanced budgets, a corporate tax that would be cut in half, and, like every other Republican speech, school choice. The most interesting line of the speech? “For the first time in history, men and women were guaranteed a chance to succeed based NOT on who your parents were but on your own initiative and desire to work.” Pretty bold statement from the son of a Congressman.
Surprisingly, there was one place where I think everyone can agree with the senator from Kentucky. “I have seen the inner sanctum of Congress,” said Sen. Paul. “And believe me there is no monopoly on knowledge there.” Those might be the truest words he’s ever spoken.
The…um…Genitalia Speaks: The Republican party obviously feels like its needs were not being addressed by the President’s speech. Neither, it appears, do the, well, uteri. To be fair, they’ve been the center of some pretty major debates lately, with over 200 restrictions on the right to choose leveled at them since 2011. Despite all of this, not once did the President mention reproductive health rights last night.
Now, via Lady Parts Justice, the uterus is responding. Itself. “I am here tonight to assure the uteri of America that the government is back to work — and that Republicans and Republicans alike are tirelessly fighting so the uteri of America will have the same rights as the uteri of Saudi Arabia,” it declares. To hear the words from its own “mouth,” click here.
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