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Obama not giving up on ambitious agenda

Published 10:21am Thursday, January 28, 2010

By JOHN EBY
Dowagiac Daily News

President Barack Obama called out a gridlocked Congress in his first State of the Union speech Wednesday night, vowing “I don’t quit” when it comes to his ambitious agenda to fix such vexing issues as health care, education and energy, although growing jobs will be his second-year priority.

In an address which mentioned Elkhart, Ind., and community colleges, Obama said, “We can’t afford another so-called economic ‘expansion’ like the one from the last decade — what some call the ‘lost decade’ — where jobs grew more slowly than during any prior expansion; where the income of the average American household declined while the cost of health care and tuition reached record highs; where prosperity was built on a housing bubble and financial speculation,” Obama said.

“From the day I took office, I’ve been told that addressing our larger challenges is too ambitious; such an effort would be too contentious. I’ve been told that our political system is too gridlocked, and that we should just put things on hold for a while. For those who make these claims, I have one simple question: How long should we wait? How long should America put its future on hold?

“You see, Washington has been telling us to wait for decades, even as the problems have grown worse,” said Obama, who spoke of a trust deficit between politicians and voters who send them to Washington.

“Meanwhile, China is not waiting to revamp its economy. Germany is not waiting. India is not waiting. These nations – they’re not standing still.  These nations aren’t playing for second place. They’re putting more emphasis on math and science. They’re rebuilding their infrastructure. They’re making serious investments in clean energy because they want those jobs.  Well, I do not accept second place for the United States of America.”

“We should put more Americans to work building clean energy facilities and give rebates to Americans who make their homes more energy-efficient, which supports clean energy jobs. And to encourage these and other businesses to stay within our borders, it is time to finally slash the tax breaks for companies that ship our jobs overseas, and give those tax breaks to companies that create jobs right here in the United States of America,” Obama said. “Now, the House has passed a jobs bill that includes some of these steps. As the first order of business this year, I urge the Senate to do the same, and I know they will. They will. People are out of work. They’re hurting. They need our help. And I want a jobs bill on my desk without delay.

“But the truth is, these steps won’t make up for the 7 million jobs that we’ve lost over the last two years. The only way to move to full employment is to lay a new foundation for long-term economic growth, and finally address the problems that America’s families have confronted for years.”

U.S. Rep. Fred Upton
Cass County’s congressman, U.S. Rep. Fred Upton, R-St. Joseph, reacted,” “These are tough times for sure, and I am pleased the president focused on kitchen table issues, right where he needed to be. Folks are desperate for a chance at honest work, a steady job to provide for their loved ones, and jobs should be number one. The nation has lost one in five manufacturing jobs, with Michigan suffering the most, but expanding nuclear power is a positive start, and we can create hundreds of thousands of quality, good-paying jobs in the process.”

Upton continued, “With double-digit unemployment and lingering economic troubles, we have a great responsibility to remove the shackles of partisanship, working together to aggressively cut spending, reduce crippling deficits and pursue common-sense budget reforms. Working families are making the hard decisions to balance their checkbooks, and the government must do the same. We are in critical need of budget reforms and a spending freeze is an important first step, but we must follow through with substantive, concrete reforms that work, rather than embrace hollow budgetary gimmicks.”

David Cook, Dowagiac
Conservative Dowagiac businessman Dave Cook said, “As B.B. King said, ‘The thrill is gone …’ Obama is one terror attack away from total collapse. It’s hard to believe or trust him. He still talked about government for the people, but people saw how the health care debate went. His ego is huge. It’s all about him and if they think more of Obama is needed, then they are delusional.”

Cook noted that Fox reported Wednesday night that Democrats and Republicans are pushing to remove the terror trial from New York City.

“This will be a showdown,” Cook said. New Yorkers are angry “and you can’t blame them.”

Gov. Granholm

“I think the president gave a wonderful speech tonight, and I believe the people of Michigan will take heart that President Obama is focused like a laser on the one thing we need most – jobs,” Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm said.

“Among the programs he outlined, I particularly applaud him for giving tax breaks to those who create jobs here rather than for those who ship jobs overseas. I appreciate his no-nonsense call to unity at this challenging moment for many Americans who are hurting, and I look forward to working with him to insure full economic recovery for Michigan and the United States.”

U.S. Rep. Pete Hoekstra
“President Obama outlined a number of policy initiatives over the next year, but he should focus on jobs, the economy and strengthening national security. They are the most important priorities in America today, and I hope that he works in a bipartisan manner to get the job done,” commented Hoekstra, R-Holland, a governor candidate.

Mike Bouchard
“The president’s remarks were long with status quo rhetoric but short on courageous, positive economic reform,” said Bouchard, Oakland County sheriff and a Republican candidate for governor.

“Michigan’s economically battered families and job providers waited for assurance that he would tackle the fiscal problems plaguing our nation. Sadly, rather than commitments of fiscal prudence and government restraint, we were subjected to vague suggestions of slower spending and continued government overreach.

“Michigan has had the nation’s highest unemployment rate for 43 months, yet the president offered little to help restore our thousands of lost jobs.  With all due respect to the president, sound bites don’t put food on the tables of unemployed Michigan workers. They deserve better.

“This is not the time to be timid. We need leaders who have the nerve to do what needs to be done, regardless of political consequences. As we’ve seen in Michigan over the past eight years, indecisiveness, incorrect focus and inexperience can be devastating. Skirting the issues will not turn our state or nation around. Reviving our economy demands courage, leadership and vision.

“That’s what I bring to the table. I look forward to sharing my blueprint for fixing Lansing and getting Michigan back to work as I continue meeting with families and job providers across our great state,” Bouchard said.

U.S. Sen. Carl Levin

“President Obama had the right focus and set the right tone tonight. His focus was right where it belongs: on jobs and the economy, and on reforming the financial sector to end the abuses and excesses that put us in the economic hole we’re in.

“The president was eloquent in his optimism, and he rightly said that we’re all responsible for working together to tackle the challenges we face. He acknowledged his own mistakes and he avoided pointing partisan fingers. He called on all of us, Democrats and Republicans, to join in seeking solutions to the problems we face.”

Tea Party Express ‘unimpressed’
The Tea Party Express released a statement that said, “Tonight was a night of hot air, delivered in a way too long speech that revisited pledges we’ve quite frankly heard from Barack Obama before.

“His comments in the State of the Union were similar in tone and substance to his comments made after he won the 2008 presidential election and during his inauguration.
“But actions speak louder than words, and this administration violated its promise for increased transparency. Lobbyists were appointed by the president to positions he swore would never be filled by former lobbyists.

“Worst of all, we’ve seen out-of-control spending, and an unparalleled growth in the size and power of government.

“We’ll start to believe Barack Obama when his actions match his words. Until then, it’s just more empty promises, and we’ve all heard far too many unfulfilled promises from the politicians in Washington.

“In our opinion, the best part of this speech was the end.”

U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow
“Tonight, I am pleased that the president reiterated his commitment to strengthening our economy and creating jobs. The priorities that the president laid out this evening will continue to help our manufacturers build these new technologies in America, create jobs and move our economy forward. It is also critical that small businesses will have access to much-needed capital to make investments and grow their companies.

“As a member of the Senate Finance, Energy, Agriculture and Budget Committees, I have been deeply involved in the efforts to refocus our country on clean energy manufacturing, small business and the challenges of middle-class families. I look to working with President Obama in the year ahead with a sense of resolve to focus every day on creating jobs in Michigan.”

Aletheia Henry
Aletheia Henry, state director of Organizing for America (OFA)-Michigan, commented, “Tonight, President Obama outlined a clear path forward for America that supports the needs of Main Street in the short-term, while setting our families and communities up for sustained and long-term success. His proposals for strengthening the middle-class – and those seeking to lift themselves into the middle class – recognize that the best way to bring our economy back from the brink of Depression and to insure future prosperity is to invest in the concerns that impact both our living rooms and our boardrooms.

“And while the president’s remarks this evening leave no doubt that we continue to live in difficult economic times – that the road ahead will not be easy – his initiatives show great promise for addressing education, energy, health care and America’s standing in an increasingly global marketplace. And his words reminded us that American innovation will lead us out of this crisis – while American resolve will insure we manage through the tough times that remain.

“In unveiling his vision for renewing and reviving our nation, the president extended his hand in the same bipartisan spirit that has characterized his administration to date. It is our hope – and the hope of OFA supporters across this state and this country -that America’s leaders will rise to the challenge,” Henry said.

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