UPDATE: Local Legislators React to President's State of the Union Address

By: WTAP News Email
By: WTAP News Email
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UPDATE 1/29/2014 4:45 PM

Area legislators rate the President's State of the Union Address and most are not impressed.

Most of that delegation is made up of Republicans and reaction to President Obama's address was definitely along party lines.

But both Republican First District Congressman David McKinley and Democratic Senator Joe Manchin were unimpressed with the President's pledge to move ahead with certain policies, regardless of legislative action on them.

That means, where it can be done, enacting goals by executive order.

"His idea of doing things unilaterally, without involving Congress, that's how we got into this problem," says McKinley. "We have to work together, and I think we can. America and West Virginia deserves better."

Ohio Congressman Bill Johnson was even more outspoken on the President's goals saying, in his words, "his real agenda is not about equalizing incomes for Americans, it's about equalizing outcomes"

Johnson went on to say President Obama's reluctance to lead and address America's challenges is deeply disappointing.

Senator Jay Rockefeller applauds the President's speech:

“Creating a better life for our children—reducing income inequality and providing opportunities—is profoundly personal to me. It has, in many ways, been my life’s work and calling, something that stirred within me during my early days as a VISTA worker in southern West Virginia in the 1960s. My moral compass was truly set in that tiny coal community of Emmons, and it has guided my work ever since. Much of the President’s State of the Union address tonight focused on issues that are at the heart of my nearly 50-year career in public service, issues that are as important today as they were when I first came to West Virginia.

“We know that the wealthiest one percent of Americans take home nearly 20 percent of our nation’s total household income—representing a kind of inequality that is truly staggering and does a tremendous disservice to our children and our families. Addressing this inequality is at the heart of the many strides that have been made over the years. The Children’s Health Insurance Program, the Child Tax Credit, the Earned Income Tax Credit, Medicaid—all of these programs were created and strengthened by giving families a seat at the table they wouldn’t otherwise have. And I’m proud of the role I played in creating each of them.

“But addressing income inequality isn’t just about a safety net. It’s also about creating new opportunities. That’s why I am glad that the President agrees with me that it is imperative to expand high-speed broadband connections to our schools and libraries and give our children access to the transformative power of next-generation broadband and wireless technology. Nearly 18 years ago, I created the E-Rate program with former Senator Olympia Snowe. E-Rate has opened up a world of opportunity to millions of schoolchildren by providing basic Internet connectivity in classrooms and libraries. Last March, I called on the FCC to begin the process of updating and expanding the bipartisan E-Rate program to meet our 21st century capacity and educational needs. The FCC has heeded that call, and I appreciate FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler’s commitment to expanding the success of the E-Rate program.

“While the President’s call for additional support for broadband infrastructure in schools and libraries is welcome, any update by the FCC of E-Rate must provide the necessary long-term funding to secure a sustainable future for the program. The update also must have the support of existing beneficiaries and others who have contributed to the decades-long success of E-Rate. I will continue to work to make sure that the E-Rate program helps to deliver the brightest future possible for generations to come.”

Congressman (R-Marietta) Bill Johnson replies:

“I am disappointed, but not surprised, by President Obama’s decision to double down on the same Big Government policies that are making the American people’s lives harder. The President’s real agenda is not about equalizing incomes; his goal is to equalize outcomes. And that will lead to setbacks for small business owners and hard working taxpayers.

The President conceded that ‘average wages have barely budged….inequality has deepened…upward mobility has stalled…too many Americans are working more than ever to just get by.’ Yet, he doesn’t attribute this ongoing economic struggle to the result of living under five years of his policies. In fact, he says he’ll just bypass Congress – representatives also elected by the American people -- when he chooses.

It’s clear the President is out of ideas on jobs. The President touts that the unemployment rate is down to 6.7%, but he fails to understand – or admit -- that the unemployment rate has fallen because the labor force participation rate is the lowest it has been since 1978. Millions of people have simply given up looking for work. In fact, last month more Americans stopped looking for a job than found one. And that’s a tragedy.

Missing from his speech, and what many in Eastern and Southeastern Ohio wanted to hear, is how the President plans to fix Obamacare. Ohioans are seeing their premiums skyrocket, while others are having their health plans cancelled. The law is hurting businesses in Eastern and Southeastern Ohio, and small business owners are being forced to make painful decisions. Also missing from his speech was any mention of easing his Administration’s crippling regulations that have cost so many Ohio coal jobs.

The President’s reluctance to lead and address the real challenges America faces is deeply disappointing. Life is getting harder for more and more Americans who find themselves having to work harder to make ends meet. I will continue to work with my colleagues in Congress, on both sides of the aisle, to pursue policies that empower individuals to reach their dreams and create a healthier economy, rather than a federal government that too often now stands in their way.”

Rep. David B. McKinley, P.E. (R-WV)

“Going into tonight’s address there were three questions I hoped would be addressed: can we do more to turn around the economy? Can we do better on health care? Can we do more to stop wasteful spending? Unfortunately, I did not hear solutions but rather the same old rhetoric we’re heard over the past six years.”

“While Wall Street may be thriving, Main Street is still struggling. Our economy is too weak with 92 million Americans out of the work force. Our economy is being held back by burdensome regulations, a broken health care law, and a tax system that is too complicated, yet the President didn’t address those issues.”

“Tonight, the President declared this to be a ‘year of action.’ Unfortunately, his idea of action appears to be going it alone and not working together with Congress. That’s not how governing works.”

“In a divided government we need to find consensus to get anything done. For the sake of the American people, we need to work together in a bipartisan manner, find common ground, and find common sense ways to make life better for all Americans.”

U.S. Representative Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) statement on the President's speech:

“West Virginians want to work, and they expect Washington to implement policies that will create jobs and grow our economy. Instead of working to unite our country, to revitalize our economy, and to restore confidence, the president has focused on promoting what divides us.

“We know that an energy economy is a jobs economy. I am disappointed in our president’s administration for limiting West Virginia’s abundant possibilities for using our energy resources to create good-paying jobs here at home, but I applaud his support for fueling vehicles with natural gas. Coal and natural gas are secure, domestic, reliable sources of energy that heat our homes, power our economy and employ tens of thousands of West Virginians.

“Coal should be part of an all-of-the-above energy strategy, and I am disappointed in the president for lobbying once again for his new, burdensome greenhouse gas regulations. Our coal is good enough for Japan, good enough for the Netherlands, good enough to export all around the world. Our country needs dependable domestic energy, and I will work to ensure West Virginia’s energy is being used to power America and fuel our economy.

“As Americans face higher energy prices, they’re also facing higher health insurance bills or are losing their existing insurance plans entirely. The president said if you like your plan you can keep it, and we’re seeing that that’s clearly not the case. We must ensure that Americans have access to healthcare plans that fit their needs – not a plan that the administration feels they should have.

“Obamacare is bad for Americans, bad for West Virginia’s families and bad for West Virginia’s economy. As I heard across the state last week, Obamacare’s new regulations have created uncertainty among small businesses, leading them to delay hiring new employees or making capital investments in their communities. While we will continue to push to repeal and replace, I will also continue to work with my colleagues on legislation to open up health insurance across state lines, to ensure that families can choose plans that work for them, and to provide certainty to businesses so they can hire more employees.

“I have supported previous efforts in Congress to raise the minimum wage, and I believe Congress should debate whether the minimum wage should be raised again. This is a discussion and a debate that should be taken up in the halls of Congress, not pushed into effect via an executive order. I welcome this debate in Congress and look forward to studying any legislation that is brought to the House floor for consideration.

“I look forward to working with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to create jobs, to fulfill our promises to our veterans, to reform our tax code, and to promote domestic energy.”

U.S. Representative Nick J. Rahall (D-WV) releases this statement:

“I support calls for investing more in our own Nation – in roads and bridges, education, research, and the modern water systems we so obviously need but that the Republican leadership in Congress so vehemently opposes. But, tonight’s State of the Union Address was a mixed bag. I depart completely from this Administration when it crafts an energy agenda that sidelines coal and when the White House circumvents Congress to impose its own agenda.”

West Virginia Secretary of State Natalie Tennant:

“If the President wants to promote opportunity, he needs to rethink his energy policies. The President is wrong on coal and I will fight him or anyone else who wants to take our coal jobs,” Tennant said.

“At the height of our water crisis, no one could tell us how harmful the chemical was or what levels were safe. But, the EPA has time to go after our coal jobs in West Virginia? That doesn’t make sense. The EPA needs a new set of priorities.”

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