Compilation of Florida elected officials’ and politicians’ reactions to President Obama’s State of the Union address

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A running compilation of reactions to President Obama’s State of the Union address from Florida’s elected officials and politicians.

Senator Bill Nelson:

“I think the president did a good job tonight by pointing out that we need to protect and expand the middle class.

“You do that by creating jobs with better wages and making investments in education, manufacturing and high technology.   But you can only do that if you can work together in a bipartisan way, a non-ideological way, like we are trying to do on immigration.

“Most people want us to come together, and they certainly deserve it.”

Congressman Gus Bilirakis:

“Tonight was an opportunity for President Obama to come forward with a clear framework for how we are going to create jobs and spur the economy. Instead, we were met with greater concern for middle class American families. Prosperity can only be achieved with a smaller, smarter government and less taxes. It is time to truly come together for the future of our nation, our children and grandchildren, to find solutions to the challenges we face, so we can get our country back on track.”

Congressman Alcee Hastings:

“I agree that the challenges we face must be addressed in a balanced way – we simply cannot cut our way out of debt and into prosperity.  We must first reform our tax code to ensure that big corporations and the wealthiest few are paying their fair share.  Furthermore, we must also reevaluate our spending priorities, putting an end to wasteful programs while continuing to strengthen and improve vital ones such as Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid.”

Congressman Patrick E. Murphy:

“I am glad that the President gave much-needed attention in his State of the Union address to the state of our nation’s economy.  I agree with him that we must find ways to spur economic growth, invest in education, manufacturing, clean energy, and infrastructure, and work towards a simpler and fairer tax code.  It also gave me hope to hear the President’s call for a ‘big deal’ to find a long-term solution to our fiscal issues rather than continuing to take short-term piecemeal approaches to addressing our nation’s fiscal and economic issues.  However, to come to a grand bargain, we need to find common ground to work together, regardless of party affiliation.  I would like to have heard President Obama speak even more about his commitment to bipartisanship.

“Our country is at a tipping point and we need less political gamesmanship and more leadership. With this leadership will come stability for our private sector and will help spur investment and access to capital in our communities which will in turn increase economic growth. I have pledged to reach across the aisle and work with both Democrats and Republicans to put the American people before partisanship.  That is why I sat with Republican Representative Tom Rice of South Carolina and joined our fellow members of the No Labels’ Problem Solvers group in wearing orange pins to tonight’s address as a show of our commitment to working together.

“America is a great nation which throughout history has seen great leaders rise up and come together to fix our most desperate problems.  I am hopeful that in this new Congress, the President and Congressional leaders from both parties will come together and exercise the courage and foresight to work together to reach the grand bargains that will ensure America continues to be the greatest country for generations to come.”

Congressman Richard Nugent:

“When it comes to the immediate shortfall facing Medicare, one of the most fundamentally important federal programs in this country, he said, ‘those of us who care deeply about programs like Medicare must embrace the need for modest reforms’, which is the same thing he’s said in a State of the Union before.  But what did he give us in the way of proposals?  Slogans. Next week, call the White House and ask them for the numbers and see what they say. The fact of the matter is, the Board of Trustees of Medicare have made clear that in twelve years, the program’s main trust fund will run out of money to pay for benefits. Where I come from, talking about a problem isn’t the same thing as fixing it.  And the people I represent, the men and women who are counting on that program, they don’t have time for slogans.”

Congressman Trey Radel:

“This was another “do as I say not as do” speech from the President where the rhetoric does not match the reality of our struggling economy. I believe in a great future for America, not only for my one year old son but for generations of American children, and unlike the President’s vision of larger government and higher taxes, I believe that small business owners and American families will thrive and prosper when government gets out of their way.”

Congressman Tom Rooney:

“Tonight, we heard two very different visions for the direction of our country. Senator Rubio spoke about what the American people can achieve through free enterprise, limited government and greater freedom. President Obama listed what the federal government can do with higher taxes, more spending, more borrowing, and greater control over our everyday lives. 

“Divided government should be a time where we can achieve big things, like tax reform under Reagan or welfare reform under Clinton, and President Obama had an opportunity to reach out and find areas where we can work together. Instead of seizing this opportunity, the President continued to focus on many of the same policies that have brought us persistently high unemployment, anemic economic growth, and record deficits and debt. 

“After listening to President Obama deliver the same campaign-style speech we’ve heard so many times, Senator Rubio’s speech was refreshing. I was proud to hear a Florida Senator lay out in clear terms how an agenda of limited government and free enterprise can build a strong middle class and offer every individual, family and small business their greatest shot at achieving the American dream.”

Congressman Dennis Ross:

“Families all across Florida and all across this country are hurting financially. Many Americans are unemployed or underemployed and the future generation is saddled with ever-growing debt that we are leaving behind. This debt will stifle innovation and dampen the overall prosperity of our country. And the answer isn’t to spend more of the people’s money. 

“The looming, across-the-board cuts found in the sequester have already frozen many businesses. Not only can companies not hire more employees, they can’t focus on their next job because they do not know if the funds will be there. The sequester is bad for the American people. Instead of across-the-board cuts, we must make smart, targeted cuts that eliminate waste, fraud, and abuse in our government. 

“I am pleased, that even though it took three years, the president brought up the plan of the Simpson-Bowles commission in his speech. Almost a month ago, I filed a bill (the BOLD Act) that would implement some aspects of this bipartisan commission’s plan. We must reform our tax system by eliminating loopholes, eliminating some exemptions, and creating incentives so businesses will thrive in America. My plan will cut government spending and will reform the tax system. 

“With the future of our country at stake, we must work together to find solutions to some of our nation’s biggest problems.”

Congressman Steve Southerland:

“The President’s address tonight was less a blueprint for his next year in office than it was an indictment of his last four.  President Obama preached a message of fiscal accountability and giving rise to a strengthened middle class, but his administration has done more to increase wasteful spending, prolong economic uncertainty, and weaken the middle class than any administration in generations.”

The Republican Party of Florida’s Lenny Curry:

“Tonight, just minutes after President Obama promised to spend more of our tax dollars, reduce American freedoms, and grow the size of government, Senator Marco Rubio offered a conservative vision for why limited government is the best way to return the middle class to prosperity. 

“In the short time that Senator Rubio spoke, he dismantled the false promise of President Obama’s big government, tax-and-spend agenda and explained, in easy to understand terms, how limited government leads to more freedom and better economic opportunities, and why America must return to limited government if we want to be a prosperous nation.”

By the way, former Congressman Connie Mack released a statement, not in reaction to the State of the Union or Senator Rubio’s response, but to Rand Paul’s response on behalf of the Tea Party:

“Senator Rand Paul is right – America must cut spending and balance our budget.
“The Mack Penny Plan, which I introduced in the 112th Congress, prescribes a common-sense way to balance our budget. It’s a simple plan that every family and every business has had to do themselves. The federal government must do the same.
“I appreciate Senator Paul’s leadership on fixing America’s finances and I look forward to doing all I can to help him in his effort to make the Mack Penny Plan the law of the land.”

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including,,, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. SaintPetersBlog has for three years running been ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.