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Iowa officials react to Biden’s State of the Union address
Grassley: ‘Rude’ of Biden to say GOP wants to sunset Social Security, Medicare
Iowa political figures on both sides of the aisle weighed in on Democratic President Joe Biden’s second State of the Union address Tuesday night.
Democrats praised the president for setting out a progressive vision for the country and signing into law major bills, including the bipartisan infrastructure package and legislation to promote high-tech manufacturing and limit prescription drug costs for seniors. Republicans, meanwhile, criticized Biden over inflation, immigration, the fentanyl crisis, China and business regulations.
Biden sought to portray a nation that’s dramatically improved from the one he inherited two years ago, with low unemployment, strong job growth and easing inflation. The president also offered an optimistic outlook about the end of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Still, only a quarter of U.S. adults say things are headed in the right direction, according to a new poll by the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research.
Here’s what Iowa politicians and officials had to say about his speech:
New Iowa Democratic Party Chair Rita Hart
“Here in Iowa, the Biden-Harris administration has created jobs to rebuild and strengthen our bridges and roads, to replace the lead pipes poisoning our water and to connect our small towns with high-speed internet access,” Hart said, thanks to the bipartisan infrastructure law.
“Beyond creating good-paying livelihoods that don’t require a four-year college degree, President Biden and Democrats have also brought down skyrocketing prescription drug prices and capped monthly insulin costs at $35 for Medicare patients, ensuring that our seniors won’t go bankrupt trying to stay healthy,” Hart said in a statement. “ … We still have a lot of work to do in Iowa, but like the President, I believe that our best days lie ahead.”
Iowa Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds
“For too long, Washington has been creating problems and leaving it up to the states to clean up the mess,” said Reynolds, who provided last year’s Republican Party’s response to Biden’s first State of the Union address.
“As (Arkansas) Gov. (Sarah Huckabee) Sanders displayed tonight, Republican-led states are leading and delivering,” Reynolds said in a statement. “The Biden Administration has lost every sense of reality. President Biden believes the American people are naive and don’t see the crisis and chaos his administration has created. The problems that face our country require new leadership, not a re-election speech.”
Progress Iowa executive director Matt Sinovic
“Joe Biden repeatedly offered examples of his successes and of bipartisan cooperation, only to be met by MAGA Republicans jeering back at him,” for saying some in the GOP want to “sunset” Social Security and Medicare, Sinovic said in a statement.
Biden’s remarks were a reference to a proposal by Florida Republican Sen. Rick Scott to sunset all federal legislation — including that relate to popular programs such as Social Security and Medicare — after five years to be reexamined “if a law is worth keeping.” Scott has insisted he does not want to cut Social Security or Medicare.
Biden called on Republicans to stand and cheer in agreement that the social safety net entitlement programs should be protected. It appeared most did.
“Iowa’s seniors rely on Social Security and Medicare. They are critical for Iowa families and our communities,” Sinovic said.
He called on every member of Iowa’s all-Republican congressional delegation to declare “there will be no cuts, no privatization, and no reduction in benefits for Social Security and Medicare.”
U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa
Grassley, who did not attend the address but watched it on television, said it was “rude of the president” to bring up Scott’s proposal, calling it “a stupid idea” not supported by House and Senate Republicans.
"And so the president should not have made as big of a deal out of that as he did, when only one senator has suggested that,“ Grassley told reporters Wednesday during a weekly conference call. ”This is fear mongering, I think, by the Democrats to score points with the American people.“
Grassley said Social Security and Medicare are “part of the social fabric of America, and we have to be strengthening it and extending it for the benefit of our children and grandchildren.”
He also criticized for Biden for not talking enough about national security threats, particularly from China.
Biden nodded to his decision to shoot down a suspected Chinese spy balloon as evidence that his administration will “act to protect our country” against threats from Beijing. Grassley, though, said Biden did not give the issue “the justice it deserved.”
The president has come under intense scrutiny from Republicans who say he was slow to act in downing the balloon days after it was first discovered hovering in Montana, home to one of the nation’s three nuclear missile silo fields.
U.S. Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa
"At the hands of big government, middle-class families, small businesses, and hardworking Iowans are suffering. I believe the majority of Americans will agree: under President Biden, the state of our union is more expensive and less safe,“ Ernst said in a statement.
In contrast, Ernst said Republicans are working to cut wasteful spending, secure the Southern border and support entrepreneurs and small businesses.
U.S. Rep. Ashley Hinson, R-Marion
"The state of our union is record high inflation, open borders and letting China walk all over us,“ Hinson said in a statement. ”Rather than lay out a plan to restore our economy for everyone, keep our families safe and stand up for American values, President Biden doubled down on his last two years of failed policies that hurt regular people to appease the most radical wing of his party.“
Hinson, though, said she was “heartened to hear that President Biden wants to continue to improve mental health services for veterans — I stand ready to work with him in a bipartisan manner to do so."
U.S. Rep. Mariannette Miller-Meeks, R-Ottumwa
“Americans and Iowans alike are desperate to recover from the economic side effects of the COVID pandemic, but President Biden’s policies have only made things worse,” Miller-Meeks said in a statement.
Meanwhile, House Republicans have passed legislation “to unleash American energy and protect our strategic petroleum reserve, protect American taxpayers and put an end to the public health emergency,” she said.
U.S. Rep. Randy Feenstra, R-Hull
“Tonight, President Biden ignored the destructive consequences of his liberal agenda and doubled down on his failed policies,” Feenstra said in a statement. “Under his purview, our national debt stands at a record $31 trillion, our families are paying more for gas and groceries, our farmers are suffering from high input costs, millions of illegal immigrants have crossed our border and our energy reserves are depleted.”
Feenstra added that he was disappointed Biden did not mention “China’s reckless purchase of American farmland” and a proposed ban in Mexico on genetically modified corn imports.
“These are issues critical to rural America that require serious solutions and steady leadership — of which the Biden Administration lacks both,” Feenstra said.
U.S. Rep. Zach Nunn, R-Bondurant
“I hope President Biden will carry the same optimism he had in the State of the Union this evening into working in a bipartisan manner to solve the challenges we all face,” Nunn said. “We need a healthier economy, a stronger national defense, an effective justice system, and a balanced federal budget. We also must ensure disasters like the disastrous withdrawal from Afghanistan never happen again, as people like my guest Nabi (Mohammadi) are still dealing with the repercussions and trying to get loved ones out of enemy territory. I am urging the president to work more with us in Congress towards bipartisan solutions that help all Americans.”
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