“The president was talking about security for our energy, and making sure that we’ve got a strong domestic and friendly source of that,” Huizenga said, referring to the just-finished annual address. “Yet, just last week, he put the kibosh on the Keystone Pipeline project, which would be 20,000 jobs directly in the United States — plus many, many more, up to 100,000 additional jobs because of that project. I think there’s an inconsistency there.”
Huizenga also challenged the president to help businesses create “authentic, genuine solutions” to the nation’s jobs crisis.
“It’s not just taxation — it’s also the regulation that this administration has put on our economy,” the West Michigan Lakeshore’s congressman said. “We have to be very careful about that moving forward.”
Huizenga called it “absolutely ridiculous” and “not acceptable” that it has been more than two years (1,000 days as of Tuesday, he noted) since the Senate passed a federal budget — something that’s supposed to happen annually.
“We’ve got 30 job-creating bills that have passed the House of Representatives that are sitting over in the Senate awaiting action,” Huizenga said, “and I wish the president had called on the Senate to get going on those very important bills.”
In his third State of the Union address, Obama issued a populist call for income equality that echoed the Occupy Wall Street movement. He challenged Republican lawmakers to work with him or move aside so he could use the power of the presidency to produce results for an electorate uncertain whether he deserves another term.
Facing a deeply divided Congress, Obama appealed for lawmakers to send him legislation on immigration, clean energy and housing, knowing full well the election-year prospects are bleak but aware that polls show that the independent voters who lifted him to the presidency crave bipartisanship.
“I intend to fight obstruction with action,” Obama told a packed chamber and tens of millions of Americans watching in prime time.
House Republicans greeted his words with stony silence.
The president’s vision of an activist government broke sharply with Republican demands for less government intervention to allow free enterprise. The stark differences will be evident in the White House’s dealings with Congress and in the presidential campaign over the next 10 months.
In his speech, Obama said getting a fair shot for all Americans is “the defining issue of our time.” He described an economy on the rebound from the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression, with more than 3 million jobs created in the last 22 months and U.S. manufacturers hiring. Although unemployment is high at 8.5 percent, home sales and corporate earnings have increased, among other positive economic signs.
There were brief moments of bipartisanship. Republicans and Democrats sat together, continuing a practice begun last year. The arrival of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, who survived an assassination attempt, elicited sustained applause and cheering, with chants of “Gabby, Gabby.” Republican Rep. Jeff Flake escorted her into the chamber and Obama greeted her with a hug.
The president received loud applause from both sides when he said: “I’m a Democrat. But I believe what Republican Abraham Lincoln believed: That government should do for people only what they cannot do better by themselves, and no more.”
But Obama’s far-reaching list and the hour-plus speech offered a unique opportunity to contrast his record with congressional Republicans and his top presidential rivals, Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich.
“Anyone who tells you America is in decline or that our influence has waned, doesn’t know what they’re talking about,” Obama said — a clear response to the White House hopefuls who have pummeled him for months.
In an attack on the nation’s growing income gap, Obama called for a new minimum tax rate of at least 30 percent on anyone making more than $1 million. Many millionaires — including Romney — pay a rate less than that because they get most of their income from investments, which are taxed at a lower rate.
“Now you can call this class warfare all you want,” Obama said. “But asking a billionaire to pay at least as much as his secretary in taxes? Most Americans would call that common sense.”
Huizenga’s guest for the address was Marine Sgt. Cory Gritter, a 2005 Holland Christian High School graduate.
“I had a great time,” Gritter said after Tuesday night’s address. “It was definitely an experience.”
Gritter was serving in Iraq in October 2009 with a scout sniper platoon when a bomb detonated beneath their vehicle. Gritter was injured, and a fellow Marine who the Holland man credited for saving his life — Lance Cpl. Cody Stanley — was killed in a second blast.
“Cory’s service to our nation is greatly appreciated, and his story is a reminder that we must continue to serve our military and veterans when they return home, as they have so selflessly served us,” Huizenga said.
Gritter remains a patient at Bethesda Naval Hospital in Maryland — but is “doing well,” Huizenga said Tuesday.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.