This week marked a thoroughly detailed 2015 State of the Union Address by President Barack Obama. However, the GOP response from Joni Ernst was anything but. In his speech, Obama outlined the progress his administration made with succinct detail, and laid out his plan moving forward. Ernst recited talking points from her campaign and highlighted her homespun goodness. Obama called out the gridlock in Congress directly, while Ernst reminded us that she is a veteran. In short, the 10-minute speech by Joni Ernst, while full of the folksy charm that got her elected, lacked any kind of rebuttal to the president’s ideas.
As seen on the Washington Post, Joni Ernst wasted no time in reminding us that she grew up on a farm in Iowa, plowed the field, and did construction with her dad. Ernst told viewers about how she worked the morning biscuit line at Hardee’s, wore plastic shoe bags, and served up spoonful’s of woe.
“You see, growing up, I had only one good pair of shoes. So on rainy school days, my mom would slip plastic bread bags over them to keep them dry. But I was never embarrassed, because the school bus would be filled with rows and rows of young Iowans with bread bags slipped over their feet.”
While the emotional language of Joni Ernst evoked a childhood that resonates well within the conservative base, it lacked any real policy. Nevertheless, it is this kind of sympathetic, personal story of hardship that got Ernst elected, and is presumably why she was picked to be the voice of the GOP. What is missing is a clear plan of action from Ernst.
While Obama touted his economic success, stating that the economy is “creating jobs at the fastest pace since 1999” and again calling for a tax break for companies who create jobs in the U.S., Ernst effectively painted a picture of an America still struggling and took a shot at the Affordable Care Act, falsely claiming that more Americans are losing healthcare under Obamacare.
“Americans have been hurting, but when we demanded solutions, too often Washington responded with the same stale mindset that led to failed policies like Obamacare. It’s a mindset that gave us political talking points, not serious solutions.”
According to Politifact, 10 million more Americans are insured under the Affordable Care Act, so while it may be red meat for her base, the claim by Ernst that Obamacare is a failure is not true. Much like her colleagues in the GOP, Joni Ernst has no alternative health care plan to discuss.
While Ernst did recite the republican party line of learning to live within your means, she failed to mention, as reported by the Inquisitr, that her family was the recipient of $460,000 in government subsidies. Given that, it seems unlikely that Joni Ersnt’s “plastic shoe bag” narrative is true.
She did bring up one piece of policy favored by republicans when she called for Obama to approve of the Keystone “jobs bill.” While the bill has been criticized by Obama for its impact on climate change, Ernst claims that the building of the Keystone XL Pipeline will create thousands of permanent jobs. Again, as Politifact points out, the long-term jobs created by the pipeline number more in the neighborhood of 50.
While Ernst is quite effective in illustrating her homespun appeal and her down home, farm girl roots, she has no substance to her rhetoric. This does not mean that Joni Ernst has no plan, but so far she has yet to share the details of her plan with the citizenry of the United States.
In short, Ernst all but avoided taking on Obama or his policies head on, and chose instead to rely on her own narrative and GOP talking points as a beacon for her fellow conservatives in Congress.
Do you think Joni Ernst was a good choice for the GOP response to the State of the Union Address?