Congressman Zeldin’s statement on State of the Union address

01/20/2015 10:43 PM |
Congressman Lee Zeldin addresses his supporters at the Suffolk County GOP gala at Emporium in Patchogue on Election Day. (Credit: John Griffin, file)

Congressman Lee Zeldin addresses his supporters at the Suffolk County GOP gala at Emporium in Patchogue on Election Day. (Credit: John Griffin, file)

Tonight, during President Obama’s 7th State of the Union, he stood before America to share his priorities for 2015.

This was my first State of the Union Address. One would hope that a freshman member of Congress would be able to walk away from this moment encouraged and inspired by the great opportunity to chart a better path forward for America with the Executive and Legislature committed to seeking common ground on issues related to our economy, foreign policy, health care, energy policy, quality of education and other priorities.

I’m entirely unconvinced that this President has dedicated himself towards uniting a nation deeply divided by partisan division, racial tension, and security threats. 

I believe there is a time for government and a time for politics. For example, it’s probably not the best idea to try to pass a budget the week before an election. But this isn’t election time and I reject the practice of too many in Washington that the only version of compromise is getting 100% of your way all of the time. That’s not how Washington should or could ever work in reality.

President Obama’s speech seems to aspire to achieve aggravated class warfare. More taxes for some. Less taxes for others. More government for all. He gets one right, but not the other two. I am very deeply concerned that the President’s economic plan does nothing to help create more good paying private sector jobs for my constituents on Long Island.

The President touted economic growth and recovery; and yes our economy is showing some signs of improvement after years of stagnancy, but we are still faced with a growing debt and unsustainable deficits.

The President stood before Congress tonight asking for higher taxes on our hardworking job creators in order to pay for more spending and redistributed wealth. Success is something to celebrate, not penalize. The President’s plan to solve our government’s tax and spend problem is to continue to tax and spend. There must be a better way.

We now have a national debt of over 18 trillion dollars and rising every day. We have a duty not just to assist our constituents today, but also to make good public policy that looks out for our children who aren’t old enough to vote, because it is terribly unfair that they are going to be saddled with mountains of fiscal obligations that they had no ability to avoid inheriting.

Washington should be focusing on growing our economy from the bottom up, not the top down from DC, in a market free of more taxes and regulations. When is enough enough? At what tax rate does the President believe that there is a negative effect on behavior for businesses deciding whether to grow new jobs, stay in America, and invest in our communities?

Though I may have different ideas on the best path for moving our nation forward, I am convinced that if the culture in DC changed so that the Executive and Legislature committed to work together to enact sound public policy that we can pass annual budgets again. It is Congress that has the power of the purse. We can structurally reform our nation’s finances so that the national debt stops skyrocketing. We can repeal onerous regulations, simplify our complex tax code and reduce the cost to do business so that the small business owner who is forgoing his own pay to take care of his or her employees can again take some pay for himself or herself as well. Reward success. Celebrate it. Everyone should pay their fair share, but we don’t need class warfare in order to give those struggling to get by the tools they need to rise out of poverty…to rise out of a low income lifestyle to truly achieve the American Dream.

The President should realize that if he truly wants to help lift Americans out of poverty his greatest allies are those Americans with the means to create economic opportunities. He should embrace that.

We are a great nation with great Americans on both sides of the aisle with the compassion to achieve progress. We just have a different philosophy on how to get there and that’s ok. Let’s work together. End the dysfunction. Accept that each of us won’t be able to get it 100% of our way all of the time. Through healthy dialogue we should aggressively search for common ground. I sadly believe I don’t have a partner in this President.

The one percenters we all should be most concerned about are the ones who disagree with me and they consist of some from every income level.

My message to the President and my colleagues in Congress is that there is a time for government and a time for politics. Right now is a time to govern responsibly. That requires this President to take a break from his all politics all the time approach. President Bill Clinton knew how to cut the deal. Presidents Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush knew how to cut the deal. Let’s pursue less taxes, without trying to aggravate class warfare. There is a better way to simplify our tax code and improve our economy.

The President should take a breath, put down his sword and unite us, not divide us. That would be a job well done.

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