01/20/2015 10:44 pm ET Updated Jan 21, 2015

Text Of Tea Party Response To State Of The Union

Rep. Curt Clawson (R-Fla.) presented the tea party response to President Barack Obama's State of the Union address Tuesday night.

His full remarks, as prepared for delivery, are below:

Good evening.
My name is Curt Clawson. I’m both humbled and grateful to the Tea Party Express for this opportunity tonight. 
I’m also thankful for my Dad – and especially my Mom – my hero.
I’m thankful for our veterans and men and women in uniform; defending our freedom and liberty all over the globe.
Finally I give thanks to OUR God – for the blessings of this great nation – founded in liberty and opportunity for all. 
President Obama just presented his proposals for America – pretty much the same rhetoric we’ve heard for the past six years.  I’m not here to pick apart his ideas one by one – but to offer a very different vision for our nation.
Further burdening the American economy with even higher taxes is wrong.
Just as more debt and more unfunded programs are wrong.
The Tea Party Express and I see an America where solutions rest not in big government – but in personal liberties – in free enterprise – and in the opportunity for all to pursue their own American Dream – regardless of race, creed, or conditions of birth.
To restore our nation to greatness – we need to empower and enable individual achievement. 
We need to get past the idea that Washington can solve all of our problems. 
Government and decisions must move closer to home – including more local and family choice on education and on healthcare.
Our vision is NOT based on wealth redistribution – but on economic liberty, private enterprise, and wealth creation that benefits everyone. 
We believe that ALL Americans ultimately want the same things. We all want to achieve our own unique American Dream.
We want opportunity for all – but favoritism for none!
As Americans – we celebrate our diversity. We don’t always see things the same way. But we can and must respect and listen to each other. And when we disagree – we’ve got to do this without insulting each other. 
I never expected to be here addressing you at this critical time in our nation’s history. 
Just a year ago I was active in local politics because of my concerns about water resources in South Florida and preserving the Florida Everglades – a real national treasure.
I ran for Congress because I was deeply concerned about the direction of our great nation. 
I saw an America deeply divided – bogged down in partisan bickering – with lobbyists and special interest groups lining their pockets at the expense of hard-working Americans.  
As we restore the voice of “we the people” – we need to grow the private sector – and shrink the size and reach of our federal government.
I have joined a growing TEAM of newcomers to Washington who believe as I do.  We’re bringing business experience to develop viable solutions to our economic problems. 
We believe in economic liberty and equal opportunity – not equal outcomes imposed by a bloated federal government. 
It’s really odd to me that these basic principles have somehow become “outsider” – or even radical views – as some suggest. 
Decades ago – I played basketball at Purdue for Coach Gene Keady – a mentor and a hero.  I looked around that locker room and found a group of players from very different backgrounds.
We had a guard from the West Coast, a forward from Gary, a post player from Cincinnati, a power forward from the West Side of Chicago, a center from Long Island, and me, an outside shooter from the cornfields of Indiana.
We came to Purdue with diverse racial, religious, ethnic, and economic backgrounds.
But Coach Keady quickly taught us the profound meaning of the word TEAM.
In spite of our differences, he taught us to work together – and to always put the TEAM first. That’s how he got the best out of all of us. 
And I say that’s exactly what we need to do in America today!
At Purdue, our biggest challenge was not the other TEAM. It was in our own locker room.  To WIN – we had to learn to work together. That was true for the role players on the TEAM – like me – as well as for the stars.
As Coach molded us – we learned to respect each other. Then we began to trust each other.  Rely on each other. And finally we learned to truly care about each other.
In my senior year, after being picked ninth in the Big Ten, we put our differences aside, played hard, put the TEAM first – and WON a share of the Big Ten championship! We won on the court by uniting in the locker-room.  And we learned that we’re all the same. We’re all the same!
Washington could benefit from Coach Keady’s advice.
Now of course the enormous challenges facing our country are far more complex than bringing a diverse basketball TEAM together.
But I say teamwork is essential in all walks of life. And I also say that liberty is the great equalizer. 
Economic liberty will bring America back to its destiny as the world’s beacon of light and opportunity.  Economic liberty is the foundation of the American Dream.  We can never compromise these conservative values.
Dividing us – or punishing success in the name of fairness – will not unite Americans.
In 2014 our economy continued sluggish growth – and millions of Americans are still out of work. 
As described in my economic plan, we should target growing this economy by 5% annually. 
A strong and vibrant economy will help businesses create millions of good-paying American jobs – while freeing millions from government dependency.
To do this we’ve got to enable American companies to compete fairly in a global market.  We’ve got to reduce burdensome regulations and reduce the business tax rate, currently the highest in the developed world.
In 1962 – John F. Kennedy said: 
“There is no need for us to be satisfied with a rate of growth that keeps good men out of work and good capacity out of use.”
A year later President Kennedy added: 
“The final and best means of strengthening demand among consumers and businesses is to reduce the burden on private income and reduce the deterrents to private initiative which are imposed by our present tax system”
I say that we need to begin by cutting the small business and corporate tax rates in half – to 17.5% – and take out the loopholes! 
We also need to lift the economic shackles of ObamaCare. It makes us uncompetitive – and has not let us keep our plans, as we were promised. 
We can do better, ya’ll.  We’ve got to replace ObamaCare with a fair, patient-focused, market-based system. And no one should lose their healthcare. 
We can’t expect to move America ahead by heaping higher taxes on achievement – or by the government printing or borrowing money and piling debt onto future generations. I say NO!
We can’t spend our way to prosperity with more entitlements or more government handouts.
Long-term sustainable solutions require an empowered private sector – led by small businesses and American innovation!
That must include energy independence. A major step forward here would be for the President to approve the completion of the Keystone Pipeline. 
Success for our nation also means embracing diversity – including legal immigrants – and the millions waiting in line LEGALLY to begin their own American Dream. Legal immigration has long been and remains a key to America’s greatness!
To those who speak Spanish, I say:
Todos creemos en dios, la familia , el trabajo, y la libertad. Hay que respetar la ley. Pero, ustedes son bienvenidos con nosotros. Todos somos  iguales. Por supuesto. Nuestra casa es su casa.
"We all believe in God, the family, hard work, and liberty. The law must be followed. You are all welcome with us. We are all equal. Of course. Our house is your house."
As we respect our immigration laws – we’ve also got to be fair to the more than 10 million Americans currently struggling to find good jobs!  We all know who they are.  They are our friends, family, and neighbors. 
To do this, we need to secure our borders first!  This is important for fairness – and security – for all Americans.
Finally, we must unite against the global terrorist threat of radical Islam. We must not shy away from calling this threat by its name.  We must join with our partners in Muslim nations, our friends in Israel, and a coalition of freedom-loving nations around the world.
America must lead this coalition – but we must end the disproportionate sacrifice of American blood and treasure. Our allies must step up and contribute more in this fight.
And we’ve got to stop getting into BAD wars. Too much dying !!!

Today, the Light of the Statue of Liberty – a gift from our French partners for independence – shines across the Hudson to the footprint of the Twin Towers.  Last week, leaders of the world gathered in Paris – to shine that light of liberty as a TEAM. 

To our friends in the “City of Lights” I say:

You were our allies in America’s war for Independence.  Now it’s our turn to side with you in this global battle against terrorism.

Together we’ve got to light the torch of freedom for the entire world.  With our God and Liberty as partners on our TEAM – we will succeed.

Thank you.  And may God continue to bless “America the Beautiful.”   



01/21/2015 3:05 AM EST

Obama Emphasizes U.S. Security Reliance On Shaky Foreign Partners

HuffPost's Akbar Shahid Ahmed reports:

President Barack Obama used his first State of the Union address after once again ramping up U.S. military involvement in the Middle East to describe his foreign policy as a judicious mix of military force and diplomacy -- and left no doubt he believes positive engagement with the international community is key to what he called "a safer, more prosperous world."

"I believe in a smarter kind of American leadership," Obama said. "We lead best when we combine military power with strong diplomacy; when we leverage our power with coalition building; when we don’t let our fears blind us to the opportunities that this new century presents."

The emphasis on diplomacy was nothing new for the Obama administration, but the president's multiple references to U.S. reliance on partners abroad invites scrutiny that may show those partners falling short of U.S. expectations.

Read more here.

01/21/2015 2:17 AM EST

From Nice-ish To Nasty: How 2016 GOP Contenders Responded To The State Of The Union

HuffPost's Christina Wilkie reports:

Likely Republican 2016 presidential candidates on Tuesday seemed to agree that President Barack Obama's State of the Union Address was off base. What they disagreed on was why. Responses issued by possible contenders after the hour-long speech ranged from civil, optimistic messages to angry visions of a world beset by terrorism.

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush gave one of the sunnier Republican responses of the night -- sunnier, that is, for a put-down. "It's unfortunate President Obama wants to use the tax code to divide us -– instead of proposing reforms to create economic opportunity for every American," Bush said in a statement. "We can do better."

Mitt Romney, Bush's potential rival for the backing of the GOP establishment in 2016, also was measured in his response, calling the speech "disappointing" and "a missed opportunity to lead."

From there, the tenor of the rhetoric intensified.

Read more here.

01/21/2015 1:37 AM EST

Obama State Of The Union Address Highlights Battle For The Middle Class

HuffPost's Michael McAuliff and Sabrina Siddiqui report:

More than anything, President Barack Obama's State of the Union Address signaled a fresh battle for the hearts and minds of America's beleaguered middle class -- and Republicans weren't having any of it.

Obama mentioned the middle class at least seven times and touted "working" people at least nine as he rolled out proposals to offer new child tax credits, raise the minimum wage, extend paid family leave and make college more affordable. He mentioned "families" 16 times.

But well before Obama's speech was over, House Speaker John Boehner's (R-Ohio) office was firing off responses, declaring that Obama's "regulatory onslaught squeezes the very middle-class families he claims to be trying to help," and that he was threatening to veto what Republicans consider to be jobs bills.

Read more here.

01/21/2015 1:00 AM EST

GOP Mentions Immigration In State of The Union Rebuttal...But Only In Spanish

HuffPost's Elise Foley reports:

Earlier Tuesday, it appeared the GOP's Spanish-language rebuttal to the State of the Union would be exactly the same as the English-language one, just delivered by a Latino congressman instead of a senator who wants to make English the official U.S. language.

But when the speeches were delivered in the evening, there was at least one major difference -- one key to many Spanish-language audiences. Sen. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), delivering the official Republican rebuttal, did not utter the word "immigration" once. Rep. Carlos Curbelo (R-Fla.) not only mentioned the issue, but said Republicans want to work on it with President Barack Obama.

"We should also work through the appropriate channels to create permanent solutions for our immigration system, modernize legal immigration and strengthen our economy. In the past, the president has expressed support for ideas like these, now we ask him to collaborate with us to get it done," Curbelo said in the address, translated by liberal group American Bridge (and checked by The Huffington Post).

Read more here.

01/21/2015 12:46 AM EST

Jason Chaffetz: Taxing Inheritance Is 'One Of The Most Immoral Things You Can Do'

HuffPost's Ryan Grim reports:

House and Senate Republicans are rejecting President Barack Obama’s suggestion to reform tax code that allows heirs to inherit extreme amounts of wealth largely tax-free.

“Let’s close the loopholes that lead to inequality by allowing the top 1 percent to avoid paying taxes on their accumulated wealth,” Obama said Tuesday night during his annual State of the Union address. “We can use that money to help more families pay for child care and send their kids to college.”

A variety of tax strategies exist to shield much of an inheritance from taxation. And that, said Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah), is as it should be. Chaffetz moved quickly from talking points to genuine anger in responding to the president’s proposal. “That’s a non-starter. The audacity, that he thinks the government has a right to people’s money? He wants to transfer wealth," Chaffetz said. "It’s one of the most immoral things you can do, is try to steal somebody’s inheritance, to steal it away from their family.”

Read more here.

01/21/2015 12:40 AM EST

Dreamers At State Of The Union Hope Obama Continues To Push Forward On Immigration

HuffPost's Elise Foley reports:

The White House and members of Congress often make political statements through their choice of guests for the State of the Union. There is no place that gets more attention than the first lady's box, where the guest list serves as an illustration of the president's priorities for the upcoming year. For the past few years, that list has included Dreamers: Alan Aleman attended as one of the first lady's guests in 2013. In 2014, it was Avila. And this year, 21-year-old Dreamer Ana Zamora was one of Michelle Obama's guests. Other undocumented immigrants, some of them Dreamers, also attended this year, as guests of Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and Reps. Mike Honda (D-Calif.), Mark Takano (D-Calif.) and Tony Cárdenas (D-Calif.).

Even in a speech in which Obama said the word "immigration" only twice -- plus "immigrant" and "immigrants" once each -- the presence of those guests was meant to send a message that Democrats are committed to programs like Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, which allows Dreamers to remain in the country. House Republicans voted last week to end that policy, along with elements of the measures Obama announced in November, such as protections for parents.

Read the full story here.

01/21/2015 12:04 AM EST

State Of The Union Watchers Give Obama High Marks In Instant Poll

HuffPost's Ariel Levy reports:

Americans who watched President Barack Obama's State of the Union address largely approved, giving him better marks than they did for last year's speech, according to instant polling conducted by CNN.

Positive ratings from State of the Union watchers are the rule, not the exception. CNN found Obama getting high marks in all five annual State of the Union speeches they previously polled (the network didn't conduct a post-State of the Union poll in 2012). Former presidents George W. Bush and Bill Clinton also received largely positive ratings.

Eighty-one percent of viewers had a somewhat positive or very positive opinion of the 2015 State of the Union, according to CNN -- up from 76 percent in 2014, and in line with ratings for Obama's speeches in 2011 and 2013.

Read more here.

01/21/2015 12:01 AM EST

Obama Gives Push To Restoring Voting Rights Act: 'The Right To Vote Is Sacred'

HuffPost's Jennifer Bendery reports:

President Barack Obama pushed Congress Tuesday night to restore a key portion of the 1965 Voting Rights Act, even though Republicans signaled last week they have no intention of doing so.

"We may go at it in campaign season, but surely we can agree that the right to vote is sacred; that it's being denied to too many; and that, on this 50th anniversary of the great march from Selma to Montgomery and the passage of the Voting Rights Act, we can come together, Democrats and Republicans, to make voting easier for every single American," Obama said during his State of the Union address.

Read more here.

01/20/2015 11:17 PM EST

Obama Warns Lawmakers: Stay Away From Iran Talks

HuffPost's Ali Watkins reports:

President Obama warned lawmakers in his State of the Union address on Tuesday against interfering with his administration's nuclear negotiations with Iran, promising to veto any new sanctions legislation that makes it to his desk.

“New sanctions passed by this Congress, at this moment in time, will all but guarantee that diplomacy fails  -- alienating America from its allies and ensuring that Iran starts up its nuclear program again,” Obama said. “It doesn’t make sense. That is why I will veto any new sanctions bill that threatens to undo this progress.”

Read the full story here.

01/20/2015 11:15 PM EST

Howard Fineman: Joni Ernst Didn’t Say Much In Her SOTU Response

Howard Fineman joins HuffPost Live to weigh in on Sen. Joni Ernst’s Republican rebuttal to the State of the Union. Watch: