Rep. Dave Brat — the only Ph.D. economist in Congress — released this statement following President Obama’s State of the Union address focused on economic issues:
Brat Takes Obama to Task for Being a Pretend Populist, Harming the Economy and Wages
— Response to State of the Union —
WASHINGTON, D.C. (January 20, 2015) – Rep. Dave Brat (R-Va.) issued the following response to President Obama’s State of the Union speech tonight:
“President Obama used the State of the Union tonight to play the populist card, which he’s trying to define as giving away free stuff. But as an economist, I can tell you his giveaways aren’t free. He’s trying to hide the true cost from the American people, just like he did with Obamacare. We all pay for these programs in the end through higher taxes, more government spending, and a weaker economy.
“But it’s hard for him to call himself a populist when he’s not actually looking to empower the American people, but is instead looking to increase the concentration of power in government. True populism is what conservatives are trying to do: Break up the accumulation of power in Washington and give it back to the American people.
“The president has also called for more taxes to feed Washington’s insatiable spending appetite. Hardworking Americans pay enough in taxes.
“Increasing taxes on anyone – whether the wealthy or the middle class – only slows the economy down. Higher taxes discourage people from saving, investing, and buying things. That means businesses can’t grow, can’t create more jobs, and can’t increase their workers’ wages. That hurts everyone. It’s Economics 101.
“There’s also a fundamental difference in how the president and most Republicans feel about business – whether business is a force for good or something that needs to be continually punished. While I speak out against cronyism between some big businesses and government, I believe businesses are generally a force for good – successful businesses grow our economy, provide incomes for our families, and do good works in our communities. A true populist understands that most people need to work to provide for their families and that most of them work in the very businesses the president seeks to punish.
“If we want to turn our economy around and create more jobs and higher wages for all Americans, history shows that we should be cutting taxes and encouraging business growth rather than turning more money over to government, which continues to spend uncontrollably and put us further into debt. It’s also critically important that we simplify and make our tax code fairer, treating all taxpayers equally rather than having a tax code that allows politicians to pit them against one another.”