INDIANAPOLIS - Indiana Republicans called President Barack Obama’s comments on changing entitlement programs such as Medicare a promising sign Tuesday night – but added that the president now needs to follow through on his State of the Union pledges.
Republican U.S. Rep. Larry Bucshon of Newburgh said he was “optimistic” about the portion of Obama’s speech that focused on the health insurance program for the elderly “because it was a recognition of the fact that we need to address that.”
The key, he said, is what Obama does next.
“I try to take people at their word, but the fact of the matter is, what really counts in the end is what your action is, and in the past he really hasn’t done much with what he’s said in his State of the Union addresses,” he said.
Bucshon said he hoped Obama would discuss the economy and was pleased that the president made that topic a key focus. However, he disagreed with Obama’s call for a “balanced” approach to spending issues.
“He’s had dramatic tax increases that he campaigned on and that have happened. The discussion now needs to be on where we control federal spending,” Bucshon said.
Republican U.S. Sen. Dan Coats said he’s heard Obama say he would work on Medicare reforms before – so he’s wary about Tuesday night’s comments.
“I hope this time will be different, and the president will offer a specific plan,” Coats said.
“The president must lead on these critical issues and work with Congress to enact real spending reforms. The best investment we can make in America’s future is to restore our fiscal health by removing the burden of excessive debt and taxation hindering opportunity and economic growth.”
Obama’s speech left “more questions than answers,” said Eric Holcomb, the Indiana Republican Party chairman who urged federal officials to focus on reducing the deficit.
“Instead of heeding some common sense from the heartland, we are about to witness a second term the same as the first – a president who is not serious about deficit and debt reduction and would rather prop himself up with rhetorical gimmicks,” Holcomb said.
“By ignoring the record debt amassed on his watch and simple math, President Obama is making it clear he has no intention but to perpetuate our spending problem in Washington.”
Democratic U.S. Sen. Joe Donnelly said he, too, wants to tackle the national debt. And as Obama said 34,000 Americans will return from war in the next year, Donnelly said the nation needs to focus on making sure those veterans find jobs.
An “important economic challenge, given the wind down of the war in Afghanistan, is making sure returning servicemen and women have employment options, educational opportunities, and health care resources when they come home,” Donnelly said.
“These brave men and women – and their families – have made many sacrifices serving our country, and we must return this service by providing the benefits they have earned. We have a responsibility to prioritize the ease of their transition back to civilian life.”