Lawmakers respond to State of the Union Address

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Reps. Bill Johnson, Bob Gibbs and David B. McKinley and Sen. Jay Rockefeller found little they could agree on following President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address Tuesday.

“America faces serious challenges – high unemployment, rising energy prices, and a surging federal debt driven by an out of control federal government,” said Johnson, R-Marietta. “After the president’s State of the Union Address, I am deeply concerned about his commitment to overcoming these challenges. What we heard was a total lack of willingness by the president to work with Congress on common sense solutions that would address America’s challenges. “Not once did the president mention America’s crushing $16.5 trillion national debt as he called for more spending, with money borrowed on the backs of America’s children and grandchildren. Instead of offering a real plan to stop his own sequester – massive cuts to America’s military – he blamed Congress for his failure to lead, and threatened to side step Congress all together to get what he wants.”

Johnson said he was disappointed the president did not address the country’s debt. “Instead of offering real solutions to fixing America’s debt and spending problems, the president called for more taxes that will continue to stand in the way of job creation.

“Finally, the president renewed his call for a so called ‘all of the above’ energy policy while simultaneously attacking America’s cheapest and most reliable source of energy – coal. His anti-energy policies continue to ignore America’s vast natural resources like natural gas and coal, and the millions of jobs that go with harvesting them. His war on coal, and his rejection of a job-creating energy project like the Keystone XL Pipeline are perfect examples of his failed policies,” Johnson added.

Gibbs, R-Lakeview, said he was disappointed the president did not fully address the debt issue.

“I had hoped the president would lay out precise details on how he plans to grow the economy, create jobs, and reduce our nation’s out-of-control spending and deficit. On behalf of the hardworking Ohioans and Americans whose tax dollars are being squandered away daily by this administration, I demand that our president show some leadership and lay out specific spending cuts and reforms that will get this country back to work and back on track. Unfortunately, this did not happen,” Gibbs said. “The president said that it’s not a bigger government we need, but a smarter government. That is true. But unfortunately, once again, he offered nothing but rhetoric. He offered no real plan for a smarter government; just rhetorical, empty promises,” Gibbs added.

McKinley, R-Wheeling, expressed concern about unemployment rates and overreach by federal regulators.

“Families throughout the First District and across America are still hurting,” McKinley said. “The 23 million Americans who are unemployed or underemployed are looking for a glimmer of hope, and the jury is out whether President’s remarks will give them that hope.

“The president’s focus on climate change is just code to justify his war on coal and other fossil fuels,” McKinley continued. “While I agree that climate change is taking place, the question is what causes it. Is it man-made or natural? Despite the inconclusive science, the president made it clear he will take action that would cause considerable damage to our already weak economy.

“What would bring about a stronger economy, increase growth, and create jobs, is a plan that reduces our deficit, reforms the tax code and eliminates red tape. America’s economy won’t get back to health by returning to the same policies that haven’t worked over the last four years.”

McKinley noted he plans to hold public meetings in his district in the coming weeks to discuss the president’s plans.

Rockefeller, the West Virginia Democrat, however, was pleased with the president’s message.

“It’s been encouraging to see that our national agenda touches on so many of the issues I hear about from West Virginians every day and priorities I have long fought for. Our focus must remain on creating jobs, building up our middle class and supporting families who struggle,” Rockefeller said.

“There are so many proven ways to accomplish this – many of which were mentioned. We need to boost our work force by investing in education so students can afford to get a degree or the best training for the jobs of today and tomorrow.”

We need to invest in manufacturing to help local businesses grow and hire more workers. And we need to invest in infrastructure to make sure our country and state have the transportation and technology to compete globally.”

Rockefeller also was pleased at the prospect of bringing more troops home from Afghanistan.