After President Barack Obama used his 2013 State of the Union Address on Tuesday to prod Congress for action on jobs, immigration, climate change and gun control, the GOP offered not the usual one but two responses: from Sens. Marco Rubio of Florida and Rand Paul of Kentucky, both freshmen elected in the "tea party" wave of 2010.
Rubio urged Obama to give up the “obsession” he has with raising taxes.
In his speech, the president called for unspecified tax hikes on the rich as part of a plan to head off tens of billions in spending cuts that will hit through sequestration scheduled to begin March 1.
“We don’t have to raise taxes to avoid the president’s devastating cuts to our military,” Rubio said. “Republicans have passed a plan that replaces these cuts with responsible spending reforms.”
With Obama championing the middle class as the drivers of the U.S. economy, Rubio said the middle class will be better helped by growing the energy industry and simplifying the tax code.
“It will make it easier for small businesses to hire and grow,” he said, adding that Republicans agree with Obama on lowering the corporate tax rate. “Companies will start bringing their money and their jobs back here from overseas.”
In delivering the "official tea party" rebuttal thereafter, Paul also knocked the president on taxes. The "tea party" response to the State of the Union started with Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., in 2011.
“The path we are on is not sustainable, but few in Congress or in this administration seem to recognize that their actions are endangering the prosperity of this great nation,” Paul said. “President Obama believes government is the solution: More government, more taxes, more debt. What the president fails to grasp is that the American system that rewards hard work is what made America so prosperous. What America needs is not Robin Hood but Adam Smith.”
Both men are considered possible top contenders in the 2016 presidential elections. Having two responses from the GOP might further highlight the division among conservatives, although the GOP tried to make the two rebuttals appear as if they are complementary. However, Paul's official announcement essentially painted Rubio as an establishment Republican.
Rubio, a Cuban-American, has long been touted as the new face of the Republican Party. But Paul may beg to differ, as in a past interview with CNN the Kentucky senator rejected the notion that anyone can rightly decide who the new face of the party should be.
“I don’t think anybody gets to choose who is the face is or say you or someone else is the face,” Paul said, as reported by the Washington Times. “I think we do the best to promote what we believe in.”