Vice President Joe Biden and Speaker of the House John Boehner before President… (Saul Loeb / AFP/Getty Images )
Vice President Joe Biden on Wednesday defended the president's State of the Union speech against attacks he called "ridiculous" and expressed optimism that Congress might act on some of the proposals outlined in the remarks.
Biden dismissed criticism from GOP presidential candidate Newt Gingrich, who labeled President Obama's remarks Tuesday night as promoting "a food stamp economy."
"It's hard to respond to Newt with those kind of ridiculous statements," Biden said on "Good Morning America." "We have a different priority set than Newt Gingrich, apparently, and our Republican colleagues have and we think it's fair to focus on the people who built this country."
Obama's speech was called "Built to Last" and outlined the president's plan for leveling the economic playing field between the rich and the middle class. Gingrich and other Republicans quickly branded it a campaign speech light on policy and big on rhetoric. They took aim at a key proposal in the speech -- a minimum 30% tax rate for Americans making $1 million.
While many in bitterly divided Washington described the president's proposal as merely a wish list, Biden said he believed there may be more action than some pundits expect. He urged Congress to act to extend a payroll tax cut for workers, calling it "the single most urgent thing to do, no excuses."
Given Congress' low approval rating, Biden said he thought lawmakers might be compelled to find other common ground.
"The mood in that place was much more serious than before," Biden said of the atmosphere in the House during the speech. "It's one thing to have a do-nothing Congress, it's another thing to have a stop everything congress."