WASHINGTON (BP)–President Obama declared America is “strong” Jan. 25 while focusing on the economy in a State of the Union speech nearly bereft of attention to social and moral issues.
One of the country’s leading pro-family organizations responded, however, by saying the president left “the family behind.”
Speaking to a joint session of Congress and a national television audience, Obama urged Democrats, who control the Senate, and Republicans, who are the new majority in the House of Representatives, to work together. “We will move forward together or not at all — for the challenges we face are bigger than party and bigger than politics.”
Some senators and representatives sat with members of the opposite party in the House chamber in an expression of civility after the Jan. 8 shootings in Tucson, Ariz., that killed six people, including federal judge John Roll, and wounded 14, including Democratic Rep. Gabrielle Giffords.
Obama urged steps to encourage innovation, strengthen the country’s schools, aid businesses and control government spending, but he did not address such hot-button issues as abortion and its funding. He only touched on the issue of expanding laws protecting homosexuality in the context of the recent reversal of the long-standing ban on open homosexuals in the military. Because of that change, he called on universities and colleges to resume welcoming ROTC and military recruiters on campus.
The proposals the president promoted in the speech fail to “strengthen the kind of family children need: one with a Mom and Dad,” said Tony Perkins, Family Research Council’s president.
“Cutting government spending is imperative, but policies that foster healthy families are even more important — and, interestingly, there is no question that intact families are the most economically productive,” Perkins said in a written statement.
He also said Obama’s abortion rights advocacy harms families and their finances.
“The President’s policies that promote abortion also undermine family formation,” Perkins said. “Abortion does this by contributing to infant mortality, victimizing women, and encouraging the abdication of responsibility by men.”
He said the health-care law backed by Obama and enacted last year “allows our hard earned dollars to pay for abortion coverage.”
Perkins commended the president’s mention of the Tucson tragedy but noted he failed to discuss other tragedies.
“Tonight President Obama appropriately paid tribute to the victims of the Tucson shooting,” he said. “However, he did not mention the recent indictment of abortionist Kermit Gosnell in Philadelphia for the murder of a mother and seven live-born infants. The Philadelphia tragedy serves as a ghastly reminder of the moral toll abortion has taken on America’s sense of justice.”
The Republican response, though much shorter than Obama’s 61-minute speech, barely touched on the abortion issue. Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin said the GOP believes government is responsible “to protect innocent life.”
Ryan called for “limited government” that means “effective government.” He said Obama and the Democratic leaders have demonstrated they desire a federal government “that controls too much, taxes too much, and spends too much in order to do too much.”
In his speech, Obama included the following proposals or commitments:
— He will veto any bills that arrive on his desk with earmarks, which typically are funds directed to be spent on a specific project in a legislator’s district or state.
— He expressed a willingness to “look at” the Republican proposal to reform medical malpractice lawsuits.
— He called for a five-year freeze on annual domestic spending.
— He endorsed simplifying the individual tax code and lowering the corporate tax rate.
— He urged Congress to terminate billions of dollars now going to oil companies.
— He called for both parties to work with him to “take on, once and for all,” illegal immigration.
Compiled by Tom Strode, Washington bureau chief for Baptist Press.