In a gentle contrast to President Barack Obama’s address urging cooperation, the Republican response focused on the expanded role the GOP will play in setting the agenda for 2011.
Sen.-elect Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire delivered the speech, demonstrating that national Republicans were serious during the campaign season when they said Ayotte would be given a high profile once she arrived in Washington.
In the speech, Ayotte spoke of a “new chapter” for the country and for the GOP.
“We’re keenly aware that the American people are relying on us to change business as usual in Washington – and we’re well-positioned to do just that,” she said.
She added: “The American people sent us to Congress with clear instructions: make government smaller, not bigger. And stop spending money we don’t have on programs that aren’t working.”
But where Obama talked about the shared burden of governance for Republicans and Democrats, Ayotte spoke only of one party.
“It’s now our responsibility to carry out the will of the people,” she said.
The will of the people, she said, is to tackle the national debt.
“Job one is to stop wasteful Washington spending,” she said. “As the mother of two children, I’m like parents across the country who worry that our nearly $14 trillion debt threatens America’s economic future and our children’s future.
“To ensure generations to come have even more opportunities than we’ve had, Congress must get serious about meaningful debt reduction,” she added. “This isn’t a Republican problem or a Democrat problem – it’s an American problem that will require tough decision-making from both parties. Republicans are ready to lead that fight.”
As with Obama, Ayotte said restoring jobs in the economy must also be a priority, and she noted that the preservation of the Bush tax cuts, on a deal struck in the final days of 2010, was a good start on easing the economic pain of many Americans.
“Coming from a small-business family, I’ve seen firsthand that risk-taking American entrepreneurs, not the government, create good jobs,” she said. “We need to harness common-sense, pro-growth policies to get our economy moving again. By getting Washington out of the way, we can unleash the American entrepreneurial spirit that has made our country the most innovative in the world.”