Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Nugent impressed by State of the Union speech but not moved

BROOKSVILLE — When you're a freshman lawmaker, just about every momentous event inspires awe the first time around, and U.S. Rep. Rich Nugent said watching the State of Union address from the House floor was an impressive experience.

President Obama's speech, however, fell short for the Spring Hill Republican. "I thought he would have a few more specifics," Nugent said Wednesday.

Echoing the criticisms of his GOP colleagues, Nugent said he felt that Obama contradicted himself by talking about freezing federal spending while still investing in infrastructure.

"That's a very mixed message," he said. "You can't talk about reducing the deficit and at the same time talk about investing, which means more spending."

Obama insisted that the nation cannot try to cut its way to prosperity. Rather, leaders must invest in education and innovation to make Americans competitive in the world economy.

Nugent said freezing discretionary spending for five years starting this year, as Obama proposed, is not enough. Last week, he was in the majority of an 8 to 4 vote by the House Rules Committee to allow House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wis., to single-handedly set fiscal 2011 discretionary, nondefense spending at fiscal 2008 levels or lower. Just hours before Obama's speech, the House approved the largely symbolic resolution.

Nugent, who voted last week to repeal the health care law passed last year, was happy to hear Obama talk about improving the legislation by including medical malpractice reform and removing provisions tough on small businesses, though he wondered why Obama wasn't willing to do that in the first place.

Much has been made of the decision this year to have lawmakers of the major parties intermingle rather than sit on separate sides of the House chamber. Nugent just picked a seat and wound up next to Rep. Joe Walsh, an Illinois Republican, and Rep. Jason Altmire, a moderate Democrat from Pennsylvania who voted against the health care bill.

The most moving part of the night, Nugent said, was sharing the experience with Marine Lance Cpl. Justin Gaertner. The 21-year-old Trinity resident lost both of his legs last November when a mine exploded near him in Marja, Afghanistan. Nugent met Gaertner a few weeks ago at Walter Reed Army Medical Center and invited him to be his guest for the speech.

Gaertner, perched in a wheelchair, watched the speech from the gallery. Afterward, he came down to the House floor.

"The look in his eyes, he was so excited about being there," Nugent said.

Nugent impressed by State of the Union speech but not moved 01/26/11 [Last modified: Wednesday, January 26, 2011 6:58pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Rays beat Orioles, but tough stretch looms that could change their plans (w/video)

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — Tuesday was a step back in the right direction for the Rays, who halted a season-high five-game losing streak by hanging on — and we mean that pretty much literally — for a 5-4 win over the Orioles.

    The Rays’ Tim Beckham celebrates with Mallex Smith after hitting a three-run homer in the second inning for a 5-0 lead.
  2. Diaz, Taddeo win easily in special Miami Senate primaries


    Two Miami state Senate candidates who raised and spent the most in their respective primaries — Republican Rep. Jose Felix Diaz and Democratic businesswoman Annette Taddeo — notched easy victories in a special election Tuesday night.

    Republican candidate Jose Felix Diaz is surrounded by supporters after he won the primary for Florida’s Senate District 40 race. Democrat Annette Taddeo, right, celebrates her victory with supporter Venus Lovely at BJ’s Restaurant in The Falls.
  3. In live debate, Kriseman and Baker ask St. Pete: Is the city better off?



    Mayoral candidates Rick Kriseman and Rick Baker made their best pitch to voters in front of a live television audience on Tuesday night. The candidates essentially asked this: Is the city better off now than it was four years ago?

    Incumbent Mayor Rick Kriseman and former Mayor Rick Baker debate in front of a live television audience during the City of St. Petersburg Mayoral Debate at the Palladium Theater in St. Petersburg on Tuesday evening. The event was sponsored by the Tampa Bay Times and Bay News 9. [DIRK SHADD   |   Times]
  4. Romano: It all comes down to sewage in this mayoral race

    Local Government

    Well, poop.

    Nothing else really matters, does it?

    Schools, economic development, public safety? Pfft. The Rays stadium, affordable housing, the pier? Ack. When it comes to the St. Petersburg mayoral election, sewage is the yin, the yang and the yuck.

    At Tuesday’s debate, incumbent Mayor Rick Kriseman said responsibility lies on him regarding the sewage crisis.
  5. Shooting sends man to hospital in St. Pete


    ST. PETERSBURG — Police were investigating a shooting that occurred around 4:40 p.m. on Tuesday and sent a man to the hospital.