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Sen. Mike Lee gives tea party response: Obama uninterested in confronting 'inequality crisis' (+video)

Published: Tuesday, Jan. 28 2014 8:55 p.m. MST

Sen. Mike Lee, seen here in this file photo, delivered the tea party's response to the State of the Union address Tuesday, saying President Obama has paid lip service to the nation's Sen. Mike Lee, seen here in this file photo, delivered the tea party's response to the State of the Union address Tuesday, saying President Obama has paid lip service to the nation's "inequality crisis." (Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News)

SALT LAKE CITY — President Obama is uninterested in the “new inequality” created by the government, Utah Sen. Mike Lee said in the tea party response to the State of the Union address Tuesday night.

“Today, Americans know in their hearts that something is wrong. Much of what is wrong relates to the sense that the ‘American Dream’ is falling out of reach for far too many of us. We are facing an inequality crisis — one to which the president has paid lip service, but seems uninterested in truly confronting or correcting,” the Utah Republican said.

Lee’s speech, delivered at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., followed the Republican Party’s response by Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Wash., who is chairwoman of the House Republican Conference. Lee's speech was streamed live on the websites of his office and the Tea Party Express.

The “inequality crisis” presents itself in three ways, Lee said: immobility among the poor, insecurity in the middle class, and cronyist privilege at the top.

“But where does this new inequality come from? From government — everytime it takes rights and opportunities away from the American people and gives them instead to politicians, bureaucrats and special interests,” Lee said.

“Throughout the last five years, President Obama has promised an economy for the middle class, but all he’s delivered is an economy for the middle men,” he said.

Obamacare, Lee said, is an “inequality Godzilla that has robbed working families of their insurance, their doctors, their wages and their jobs. Many Americans are now seeing why some of us fought so hard to stop this train wreck over the last four years.”

Lee said he particularly wanted to speak to Americans who perceive they have been forgotten by Republicans and Democrats alike.

“You are probably as frustrated as I am about an ever-growing government that somehow thinks it is OK to lie, to spy on and even target its own citizens. Many hardworking Americans are discouraged and wondering what, if anything, can be done.

“I believe we need to do what Americans have always done — come together and press for positive change. Protesting against dysfunctional government is a great American tradition, going back to the original tea party in Boston, about 240 years ago. Americans have a natural instinct to stand up and speak out when they know something is wrong,” he said.

Washington has a new generation of leaders with “positive, innovative ideas,” Lee said.

Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., and Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., whom Lee described as “conservative reformers,” are working on welfare reform proposals to help underprivileged families escape poverty, he said.

Lee said he and Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., are working with “some of the most liberal Democrats in Congress to reform the federal criminal-justice system, to help keep violent predators behind bars while creating opportunities for reformed, non-violent offenders to return to the families and neighborhoods that so desperately need them.”

As for healthcare, the best way to repeal Obamacare is to deliver better solutions, he said.

“We can’t just return to the old system. Health care policy used to give too much power to insurance companies. Obamacare now gives far too much power to government. We know that real reform will put health care dollars and decisions where they belong — in the hands of patients and families, and their doctors and nurses,” Lee said.

The new generation of reformers still has a long way to go to win over the GOP and even further to go to earn American’s trust, he said.

“I am confident that our best days as a nation are ahead of us — not because of government, but because within America’s diverse society of individuals and families, neighborhoods and churches, businesses and communities, freedom doesn’t mean you’re on your own. Freedom means we’re all in this together.”

Email: marjorie@deseretnews.com

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