Democrats praised President Obama for the aggressive economic proposals in his State of the Union address to help the middle class, while Republicans dismissed the president as continuously "out of touch" and suggested his agenda is doomed in Congress.
Texas GOP Sen. Ted Cruz, a potential 2016 presidential candidate, said he was disappointed in Obama's speech, considering voters in November overwhelmingly rejected his policies along with those of other Democrats.
"He could ... be focusing on jobs and economic opportunity," Cruz said on Fox News' "The Kelly File." "But instead he doubled down on taxes and spending. I was really disappointed."
Cruz said he was pleased to see the president interested in bipartisan efforts to pass free-trade legislation but disappointed to hear him mention a veto threat at least four times -- and speak out against Iran sanctions and the Keystone XL oil pipeline, each of which has support from Democrats and Republicans.
Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Texas, chairman of the House Committee on Homeland Security, said, "Tonight President Obama sent one resounding message: He remains wholly out of touch with the priorities of the American people."
He suggested that Obama, in his roughly 60-minute address, focused too much on recent economic gains as a means to support a tax-and-spend agenda before addressing plans to thwart terrorism abroad and on American soil.
The Republican response was expected since Obama and the White House over the past several weeks have signaled what the president would propose -- particularly the plan to tax the country’s highest wage-earners to pay for middle-class tax break.
Democrats praised Obama for putting forth what they called a bold agenda, which comes amid his recent surge in popularity, after months of low approval ratings and Democrats suffering big losses in the November elections.
"Under President Obama’s leadership, we ... restored an emphasis on middle class economics," said Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz. "Now ... we need to ensure that middle-class families have their shot at the American dream."
Obama in his pitch to help the middle-class argued his polices helped the United States out of an economic recession and that the country's unemployment rate is now below where it was before the recession, which started roughly seven years ago.
"The president made it clear he is on the side of the middle class," said Hawaii Democratic Sen. Mazie Hirono. "The president’s forward-thinking initiative to fund two years of community college will be a game changer for families I’ve met in Hawaii and across the country. ... Tonight the president laid out how we must invest in our middle class families, which means investing in our infrastructure."
But Rep. Curt Clawson, R-Fla., who delivered the Tea Party response, said, "further burdening the American economy with even higher taxes is wrong, just as more debt and more unfunded programs are wrong,".
In the days before the speech, Republicans dismissed the plan as a “non-starter,” particularly in the GOP-led Congress.
Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., a potential 2016 presidential candidate, struck a more conciliatory tone after the address, saying, "I’ll work with the president, Democrats, Independents and anyone who wants to get people back to work and alleviate poverty in our country."
However, he added, “We need real jobs created in the real world, not more empty government promises.”
Obama said during his address, his sixth, that he would deliver his full fiscal 2016 budget to Congress in two weeks.
Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., another potential 2016 White House candidate, questioned Obama's sincerity when championing his economic record, saying he takes credit for the country's recent prosperity while wages remain stagnant and the unemployment rate for blacks remains twice that of most other Americans.
He also criticized what he called Obama's tax-and-spend policies.
"I heard a lot about free stuff," he said on "The Kelly File." "But I didn't hear much about how we're going to pay for it. ... I have to wonder about the guy's sincerity."