From NBC's Shawna Thomas and Domenico Montanaro
While President Obama's State of the Union focused on job creation, health-care reform and public cynicism toward the politics of Washington, DC, there were multiple issues he thought he could get the conservatives in the audience to agree with him.
Among those issues were tax cuts, nuclear energy and off-shore drilling -- all talking points the GOP leadership seemed committed to working with the president on when they held a news conference this morning. Despite that, the prevailing talking point was what House Republicans saw as a partisan tone in the president's speech.
"If the Democrat leaders here in Congress and the president are serious about getting our economy going again and putting people back to work we can in fact work together to promote policies that will do that," Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH) said. "But there was nothing last night, in the president's speech that there was any willingness to sit down and work together."
The only time Boehner said he felt the president really expressed a true willingness to work together was when he asked if anyone had a better approach to health care. The minority leader said he put his hand up during the speech -- that he had an idea or two. During this morning's news conference he also raised his hand to hold up the GOP's version of a health-care bill to show that their version does all of the things the president wants.
Yet, as Ezra Klein at the Washington Post pointed out when the GOP bill was first introduced:
The Republican alternative will have helped 3 million people secure coverage, which is barely keeping up with population growth. Compare that to the Democratic bill, which covers 36 million more people and cuts the uninsured population to 4 percent.
But maybe, you say, the Republican bill does a really good job cutting costs. According to CBO, the GOP's alternative will shave $68 billion off the deficit in the next 10 years. The Democrats, CBO says, will slice $104 billion off the deficit.
The Democratic bill, in other words, covers 12 times as many people and saves $36 billion more than the Republican plan.
"We have been told by various spokesmen for the administration that there would be a pivot by the President at the podium but House Republicans have to ask what millions of Americans were asking last night," Rep. Mike Pence (R-IN) said, echoing what he said on Morning Joe. "Where's the pivot?"
Pence said that the president offered a "nod" to jobs and a "nod" towards "fiscal discipline," but has missed the urgent need of the American people. "After this nod to focusing on jobs with the failed economic policies and a nod towards fiscal discipline some day," he said, "then we remarkably heard the President embrace the same old same old, as we say back in Indiana."
While Rep. David Drier (R-CA) said he welcomes working with the White House to reach trade agreements with Colombia, Panama and Korea, he said, "This is my 30th State of the Union message, and I have got to say that I don't remember one that was more partisan than this one. The idea of taking on the United States Supreme Court, the idea of looking over to us and saying to us and saying to us that rather than listening to the polls we should do what's right. The message of trying to reduce the size and scope of government and get our economy back on track and have a defense policy that is second to none is the right thing to do and that is exactly what's driving us."
When Boehner was asked what it would take to get him on board with some bipartisan legislation he said forcefully, "I'm not going to vote for a bill that raises taxes. I'm not going to vote for a bill that grows the size of government, and I'm not going to vote for a bill that puts government in control of decisions the American people should be allowed to make on their own."
The leadership also said it looked forward to the president coming to speak at the House GOP retreat in Baltimore tomorrow. Boehner said the big topics that they would tackle are energy, environment, health care and jobs. On the subject of job creation he said, "The solutions that will be laid out will be much further in terms of creating jobs for Americans then what this administrations has proposed thus far."
Pence was stronger, "This is not an opportunity for one more presidential speech. Tomorrow in Baltimore the president has agreed to have a conversation with House Republicans about the future of this country, and House Republicans will seize the opportunity in respectful terms but candid and frank terms."