Area elected officials react to State of the Union

Many watched President Barack Obama’s State of the Union speech Tuesday night. Elected officials weighed in with their reactions.

One of Obama’s major talking points was creating more jobs by using governmental money. Obama talked of implementation of the “Fix-It-First” program which will create jobs and put Americans to work on structurally deficient infrastructure.

“In his second inaugural address from the Capitol steps last month, President Obama gave an inspiring speech laying out his vision for moving our nation forward based on our founding principles of equality, fairness and opportunity for every single American. Tonight, the President presented a clear plan to lead us there that Congress must take action on, starting with focusing on middle class families who are finding it harder and harder to get by,” Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand said.

Congressman Tom Reed of the 23rd District believes in job growth but believes spending government money is not the answer.

“If the President believes, as I do, that getting Americans back to work will drive the country’s economic growth, he needs to commit to creating an environment that allows all Americans to succeed,” Reed said. “How we go about doing that is where the President and I differ. I believe the focus needs to be on growing jobs, not government. What we’re missing is action.

“We’ve heard some of the same sentiments coming from the President in previous speeches but the fact remains we have more than 12 million Americans unemployed and a $16.5 trillion national debt. … Our debt and the threat of higher taxes create uncertainty in our economy which keeps job creators and entrepreneurs on the sideline. … But unlike the President, I believe taxpayer dollars should be spent on investing in infrastructure, public safety, national security and economic development rather than simply continually feeding our oversized government bureaucracy,” he continued.

Congressman Reed tried to work with Obama’s administration to lower the unemployment rate – currently over 7 percent – and reduce the national debt. Reed said his office has had not much luck.

“We’ve been open about our desire to work with the President in moving our country away from high unemployment and out of debt. We’ve reached out to the White House but have received no response. But our door remains open. I truly hope these next four years are different,” Reed said.

Obama also gave a timeline for withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan. By February 2014, more than 34,000 troops will have returned from overseas? About 30,000 troops will stay in Afghanistan to train the country’s military forces to fight terrorism. Obama also called for an increase in the minimum wage to $9 by end of 2015 and to cut the amount of energy wasted by businesses and residences in half by 2033. Gillibrand said that many of Obama’s legislative initiatives should be backed by both parties.

“It is clear the American people are demanding action on a balanced approach to the economy and putting the middle class first. They are demanding action on finally moving forward with common sense legislation to reduce gun violence, create a new accountable immigration system with an earned path to citizenship and a commitment to clean energy. These should not be Democratic or Republican ideas, they are simply the right ideas, and I look forward to working with my colleagues across the aisle in the weeks and months ahead,” she said.

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