Updated at 12:50 p.m. ET
President Obama “has a lot of explaining to do” in Tuesday’s State of the Union address, Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., said Saturday, offering an early rebuttal to the president’s big speech.
Noting reports that the president will make upward mobility and income inequality a primary focus of his speech, Blunt attempted to flip the script.
“This administration’s agenda to create more government, more spending, more taxes and more debt has created an inequality crisis of opportunity in our country,” he said in the weekly Republican address. “If all he has to offer is more of the same - or if he refuses to acknowledge that his own policies have failed to work - the president is simply doing what many failed leaders have done before him: trying to set one group of Americans against another group of Americans.”
Blunt blamed several of the administration’s policies for inhibiting economic growth. Per usual, exhibit A was Obamacare, which the Missouri Republican said was adding uncertainty and cost to the health care market.
“This isn’t the result of some website glitch,” he said. “It’s a law that’s fundamentally flawed. And it’s hurting the very families who need affordable coverage and good-paying, full-time jobs the most.”
He also criticized the president’s indecision on approving the Keystone XL pipeline to transport oil from Canadian tar sands to refineries on the Gulf Coast, saying the pipeline would “create tens of thousands of jobs at no cost to taxpayers.”
“This project’s been stalled for more than five years,” he said. “It’s time for President Obama to approve truly shovel-ready projects like Keystone to encourage private-sector job creation.”
On Friday, in a show of GOP unity before the State of the Union, every Republican in the Senate signed a letter to Mr. Obama urging him to approve the pipeline.
The White House offered a glimpse at the main themes of the president’s speech in an email to supporters sent Saturday, previewing a message focused on “opportunity, action, and optimism.”
“On Tuesday night, the President will lay out a set of real, concrete, practical proposals to grow the economy, strengthen the middle class, and empower all who hope to join it,” White House senior advisor Dan Pfeiffer wrote.
Underscoring the president’s recent emphasis on executive action in the face of a gridlocked Congress, Pfeiffer said Mr. Obama “will seek out as many opportunities as possible to work with Congress in a bipartisan way. But when American jobs and livelihoods depend on getting something done, he will not wait for Congress.”
Pfeiffer also said the president will take the show on the road during the week following his speech, visiting Maryland, Pittsburgh, Milwaukee, and Nashville to spread his message of expanded opportunity and upward mobility.