Politics & Government

Kansas' Rep. Pompeo finds president’s words to be hollow

As campaign volunteer Jim Richardson looks on, Rep. Mike Pompeo talks about motorcyclists’ rights with activist Sis Bohrer of Atlanta, Kan., at the Republican state convention.
As campaign volunteer Jim Richardson looks on, Rep. Mike Pompeo talks about motorcyclists’ rights with activist Sis Bohrer of Atlanta, Kan., at the Republican state convention. The Wichita Eagle

President Obama told Congress he wasn’t interested in fighting “old battles” over the Affordable Care Act during his State of the Union address Tuesday night.

But don’t expect U.S. Rep. Mike Pompeo, R-Wichita, to put down his sword any time soon.

“He tries to be the Harry Houdini of presidents to say that that’s an old battle,” Pompeo said in a phone call a few minutes after the address ended. “The Affordable Care Act has been in place for 27 days, and major pieces of the Affordable Care Act he himself has postponed.”

Pompeo contended that the rollout of the Affordable Care Act has made it more difficult for doctors to treat Kansans.

“These aren’t old battles. I get calls every day in my office. These are new battles that families are facing,” he said.

Obama promised to cut red tape for natural gas, but Pompeo, who sponsored a bill designed to streamline the natural gas pipeline permitting process and that passed the House in November, found those words hollow. The White House threatened to veto Pompeo’s bill before it went to a vote, citing environmental concerns.

“I don’t think he even knew what he said tonight,” Pompeo said. “He talked about more natural gas; at the same time, he talked about putting an enormous tax burden on the companies that drill for that gas.” Pompeo said Obama supports regulations that will make it more difficult for consumers to get access to natural gas.

He also accused Obama of “an absence of understanding” of how to grow the economy.

“We’re living in a world that is light-years away from the one that the president speaks of,” Pompeo said. “He doesn’t understand what it takes to grow an economy, and Kansans are suffering as a direct result of that.”

The Wichita Republican pointed to the president’s invocation of climate change as an example of this. He accused the president of pandering to his base and said the best way to combat climate change was by supporting industry rather than regulating it.

Pompeo also criticized Obama for not discussing the national debt in his speech. He conceded that the debt has grown consistently under presidents of both parties but questioned how Obama could talk about the state of the union without acknowledging the country’s growing debt.

Here’s what others in the Kansas congressional delegation had to say about the State of the Union address:

• U.S. Sen. Jerry Moran: "The President is more interested in working around Congress and the Constitution to enact his liberal agenda than in working with Congress to grow the economy. The goal of our economic policies should not be increased reliance on the minimum wage, unemployment benefits and government aid. Rather, the goal should be fostering an environment that allows individuals to find ennobling, meaningful jobs that can support their families."

• U.S. Sen. Pat Roberts: “We heard more of the same from the president: more taxes, more spending, more bypassing the Congress to enact his agenda and more big government. After five years of these policies, what do we have? We have Americans who have given up even looking for a job, businesses regulated to death and families burdened by Obamacare.”

• U.S. Rep. Kevin Yoder, R-3rd District: “Many of the president’s ideas require bigger government involvement with more spending, higher taxes and larger and more burdensome mandates and regulations. A growing government means shrinking opportunities.”

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