and read what various political leaders and columnists are saying below.
READ COMMENTS FROM: Cong. Chris Collins | Cong Brian Higgins | Cong Tom Reed | Sen. Kirstin Gillibrand | Gov. Andrew Cuomo | The NYS GOP (Video) | Columnist Peter Morici | The Alliance For American Manufacturing | The NAACP | Project 21 (Black Conservatives)
|Click below to hear
E x c l u s i v e W B E N A u d i o O N T H E W B E N L I V E L I N E
|WBEN Political Contributor Dave Levinthal,
from the Center for Public Integrity
|Cong. Brian Higgins
|Cong. Chris Collins
From White House.gov- Watch The Address Read A Transcript | Related Story
The GOP Response from Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers
“The president talks a lot about income inequality,” said Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Wash., in the official Republican response. “But the real gap we face today is one of opportunity inequality… And with this administration’s policies, that gap has become far too wide.”
Sen. Mike Lee Delivers the Tea Party Response
| Sen. Lee (R-Utah) criticized the President for contributing to the nation's massive income gap by making Americans too dependent on government. He also stressed what he said is the need for lower taxes in order to spark the economy, and said the best way to stop Obamacare is to provide better health care solutions.
|Cong. Chris Collins
For weeks now, President Obama has been talking about using a pen and a phone to get things done. But the American people don’t need a pen and a phone, they need jobs and a paycheck.
We need to focus on strengthening our economy. There are 91.8 million Americans out of work and at the end of the day jobs are created by economic growth, not mandates from Washington.
Unfortunately, President Obama did not talk about plans for economic growth, like fundamental tax reform, energy independence, or significant changes to ObamaCare.
We could immediately bolster our nation’s economy by changing ObamaCare’s definition of a full-time work week from 30 hours back to the traditional 40. And we could repeal the medical device tax, which is hurting American manufactures.
But we didn’t hear any of these solutions from the President. Instead, we heard more “big government knows best” solutions that are paid for by borrowing more money from China.
The American people want the checks and balances that come with divided government. But they also want Washington to roll up its sleeves and actually get something done.
Thankfully, Congress has started to get the message. We recently passed a responsible spending bill, which will help restore Congress to regular order, and are poised to pass a bipartisan Farm Bill.
But we cannot do it alone. We need President Obama to work with Congress to address our nation’s addiction to deficits and debt, so we can begin to move our country toward a balanced budget.
We need President Obama to work with Congress to reform Social Security and Medicare, to ensure they are solvent and give Americans confidence in their retirement future.
And we need the President to work with Congress to get rid of Common Core, and put an end to the federal government telling local schools how and what to teach.
Sadly, nothing in President Obama’s address indicates he has gotten the message that government works better when we work together. We need a President who will work with Congress, not around Congress."
|Cong. Brian Higgins (D- Buffalo)
President Obama’s message tonight embraces the fundamental theme that the United States was built as the “land of opportunity” and should continue to make good on that promise. I am hopeful that this message raises new enthusiasm for a focus on nation building here at home.
“Nation building at home means investing in education and workforce development. Ensuring that Americans have training they need to succeed is important for boosting the middle class, lowering unemployment, and growing our economy. Western New York is home to more than twenty colleges and universities contributing over $4.7 billion to the local economy. By making a quality education accessible to all, keeping college affordable and building partnerships between education institutions and local businesses, like that envisioned in Buffalo’s new Advanced Manufacturing Institute, we open up new doors for people and businesses.
“Nation building at home also means fully funding medical and scientific research. The President discussed how shifts in technology and global competition have eliminated jobs and weakened the economic foundations that middle class families depend on. There is groundbreaking work currently underway across Western New York including efforts all along the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus, but a loss of funding threatens promising research and promising researchers. We need to take actions that demonstrates a serious commitment to innovation and return to a Made in America agenda.
“Nation building at home means investing in our infrastructure – the crumbling roads, bridges and ports that are holding our economy back from full potential – and also investing in our workers. The President laid out an agenda to cut the red tape to move these projects along faster. Along Buffalo’s waterfront we’ve seen how public investment in infrastructure entices private sector investment that puts cranes in the air and construction workers on the ground. We need to replicate that model across this community and this country. There is plenty of work to be done and there are Americans who need the work.
“There is no doubt that the failure by Congress to do what they ought to be doing has led to justifiable frustration by the American people. I am frustrated as well. The President is calling for action. Members of Congress need to come together, like they have throughout history, and compromise in an effort to move the nation’s economy forward.
“The President spoke of optimism highlighting the revival of the auto industry. After years of decline, we are now seeing multimillion dollar expansions and job growth at the General Motors plant in Tonawanda and the Ford plant in Woodlawn thanks to the hardest working workforce in America. Here in Western New York we are embracing a new sense of hope driven by signs of momentum all around us, but progress is only good if you can sustain it. It’s time to put aside the issues that divide us and stand true to our pledge to be one nation, indivisible and resolute in our commitment to a strong Union.”
|From The NYS Republican Party
"After the same broken promises repeated year after year, we'd rather watch a rerun of a different television show than watch the same speech we've seen for 5 years."
Watch the Republican Party's latest video, "Just Another Rerun,"
“In his 2014 State of the Union address, President Obama laid out a bold vision for the future of our nation. His agenda is a promising blueprint for economic development, with a focus that mirrors our approach in New York to bring jobs and businesses back from overseas and create new opportunities for the middle class to grow. I was proud to hear President Obama express his support for states prioritizing early education and I look forward to making New York the 4th state in the nation to offer quality full day pre-K for every child statewide.
“Just as we must strengthen our schools and economy, we must also invest in our infrastructure in order to prepare for the new reality of extreme weather. The federal government’s support in 2013 helped New York State begin to rebuild after the damage of storms Sandy, Irene, and Lee, and as the President has suggested, we must continue to invest in strengthening our communities for Mother Nature’s next challenge.
“Finally, President Obama is right that women deserve equal pay for equal work, and he is right to call on Congress to pass comprehensive immigration reform. New York is a state that has long fought for equality and celebrated diversity, and by welcoming new families and new businesses we will continue to grow as a community, as a state, and as a nation. I look forward to working with President Obama and our partners in the federal government to create new economic and educational opportunities for all New Yorkers, ensure safer, fairer, and cleaner communities, and reimagine our State for the future.”
The Alliance for American Manufacturing's President Scott Paul :
"This is the third consecutive State of the Union in which there has been a strong rhetorical focus on manufacturing, and that’s welcome. But the progress, despite the rosy picture painted by the President, has been painfully slow. And in some cases, such as the trade deficit with China, we’ve seen backsliding.
"The President in many ways absolved past public policies as a reason why there is more economic insecurity and a decline in good, middle-class jobs. He shouldn’t have.
"From a flawed trade agreement with China in 2000 to ceding more power that enabled Wall Street to dictate terms to Main Street manufacturing in 1999, the U.S. has committed a number of unforced errors along the way. Germany, subject to precisely the same sort of technological change and globalization effects as the United States, has (1) 23% of its economy still in manufacturing, (2) a trade surplus, and (3) a steady share of global exports despite the rise of China. We’ve fallen in all three of those data points dramatically over the past 15 years. So policies do matter, past and present.
"While the President indicated there were a number of things he planned to do on his own, without Congress, in 2014 to boost the economy, he left some important things off that list:
--designating China a currency manipulator
--tightening Buy America compliance among federal agencies to prevent tax dollars from leaking overseas
--ensuring the U.S. isn’t exporting energy products to non-market economies in a way that harms the emerging energy advantage for our domestic firms
--launching an executive effort to cut our trade deficit with China in half. (Doubling exports means very little if imports rise even faster.)
"These actions could have a profoundly positive impact for American workers and manufacturing, and reverse some of the policy failures we’ve seen over the past few decades.
"Yes, half of CEOs may be considering reshoring, but few have actually moved their jobs back. Our trade flows provide the evidence.
Yes, the U.S. may be named as the top country in which to invest by executives, surpassing China, but FDI into China still blows away FDI coming into the U.S., according to OECD figures. And yes, the U.S. is creating manufacturing jobs consistently for the first time since the 1990s, but we haven’t even come close to reclaiming the jobs that were shed during the recession."
Click here for more of AAMs specific responses to President Obama’s manufacturing proposals.
Peter Morici is an economist and professor at the Smith School of Business, University of Maryland and a widely published columnist.
Promising to address inequality and strengthen the middle class, President Obama's State of the Union combined sound and foolish proposals, laced with good old fashioned demagoguery.
Despite nearly five years of economic recovery, the fortunes of working Americans have decidedly worsened. The president's policies should carry considerable culpability and bear correction.
Instead, he pronounced upward mobility has stalled-when non-partisan economic studies show that's not true-and insists the wealthy should pay to balance the accounts.
Thanks to the president's free trade policies, multinational corporations and talented Americans have earned huge income gains selling knowhow and services around the globe. Meanwhile, the stuff ordinary Americans make is increasingly shut out of the fastest growing overseas markets.
GM boasts some of the best-selling cars in China, but high tariffs, regulations and an artificially cheap currency keep out U.S.-made vehicles. The president refuses to effectively confront protectionism throughout Asia, denying Americans good paying jobs.
ObamaCare is driving up health insurance costs. Along with higher taxes, that curbs domestic purchases, slows economic recovery and destroys jobs. Restrictions on offshore petroleum development, costly new banking and environmental regulations and a shortage of lending by regional banks make it tougher for small businesses to expand and add employees.
No surprise, some 20 million Americans can't find full-time work, and the inflation-adjusted wages of ordinary workers earn are falling. Factoring in higher state and local taxes, most families are much worse off than five years ago, and record numbers of Americans depend on food stamps.
Now Obama wants to double down on failed initiatives. Instead of asking Congress to suspend the mandate that all Americans obtain excessive and expensive health insurance, he is launching an aggressive campaign to persuade young Americans to buy overpriced policies.
Presidential initiatives to build a national network of manufacturing innovation centers, strengthen infrastructure, federal job training and R&D, and rapidly expand industrial use of clean natural gas have great merit. Yet, no matter how strong the products and productive their workers, America's factories need more customers at home and abroad to succeed, grow and raise wages.
Unfortunately, the president proposes to push forward with new trade agreements in Asia that will further open U.S. markets to foreign competition without getting enforceable enough concessions on discriminatory regulations and currency manipulation that keep out American products and impoverish once-proud U.S. blue collar workers.
He wants Congress to approve a $10.10 an hour minimum wage. That's a 39 percent jump, and hardly justified by the 9 percent inflation since the federal floor was set in July 2009. Such an increase would compel McDonalds to aggressively implement methods to cut employees. Smaller restaurants, whose customers simply cannot afford to pay another $2 for lunch, would close, and the same would repeat in other industries.
Comprehensive immigration reform would help. Bringing undocumented workers out of the shadows would raise the wages they command, and those of citizens competing with them.
Republicans in Congress want a deal that really secures our borders from another surge of illegal immigrants. However, given the president's poor record of sticking to his word in budget negotiations, critical members like Senator Marco Rubio are reluctant to trust him.
All this illustrates the central reason for Washington's inaction on crucial issues.
The president dodges responsibility for the failures of his ideologically-motivated agenda by asking Congress to tax the "one percent" for simply exploiting conditions he created.
Americans judge the president by their own deteriorating conditions, and his credibility on economic issues is falling precipitously. Members of Congress simply don't trust him to address problems as the facts require and keep his word when it counts.
“Tonight we heard President Obama issue a call for action that creates economic opportunity in his State of the Union Address," stated Roslyn M. Brock, Chairman of the Board for the National NAACP.
"President Obama challenged Congress to follow his lead and increase the minimum wage to give America a raise. He also urged lawmakers to create opportunities for citizenship through comprehensive immigration reform. The President called on all Americans to work hard, take responsibility and get everyone health insurance to secure a more prosperous future."
From NAACP Interim President Lorraine C. Miller:
“President Obama put himself in the shoes of the American public and addressed the bread and butter issues that we all face,” stated NAACP Interim President and CEO Lorraine C. Miller.
“From raising the minimum wage to job training, the President brought the issue of economic inequality front and center and offered practical solutions to close the gap. President Obama has embraced the social justice movement that is moving across this nation and has boldly called on all Americans to do the same. The NAACP will heed his call and continue to be leaders in the effort end the inequalities that have plagued our nation for centuries.”
Founded in 1909, the NAACP is the nation's oldest and largest nonpartisan civil rights organization. Its members throughout the United States and the world are the premier advocates for civil rights in their communities. You can read more about the NAACP’s work and our five “Game Changer” issue areas here.
Project 21 Has Harsh Response to President Obama's 2014 State of the Union Addresss
Washington, DC - Calling it steeped in class warfare and contempt for the Constitution, commentators with the Project 21 black leadership network are highly critical of President Barack Obama's 2014 State of the Union address.
"It's interesting for President Obama to begin his State of the Union address with a list of supposed accomplishments, and then ask for a 'year of action.' He put forth a lot of ideas, yet offered no fixes to the problems that define his administration - an ever-expanding federal deficit, the stifling of jobs by the Affordable Care Act and the continued attempts to rob our military men and women of the benefits their service has earned," said Project 21's Coby Dillard , a former Tea Party organizer, Navy veteran and former guard at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
"In threatening to govern through executive actions rather than putting his ideas into legislation to be approved by Congress, the President shows a disdain for the basic structure of governance that our Founders envisioned. It's said that the true measure of a leader is his ability to build support for an agenda through consensus, and not to compel action unilaterally through his own initiative."
Speaking before a joint session of Congress, the U.S. Supreme Court, military leaders, his cabinet, diplomats and other guests, President Obama made it clear that he is uninterested and unwilling to take the steps necessary to forge bipartisan plans through deliberation and compromise. Rather, Obama seems ready to use executive power to implement a controversial and legislatively unpopular agenda.
Prior to the address, White House spokesman Jay Carney told reporters: "The President sees this as a year of action to work with Congress where he can and to bypass Congress where necessary." Obama, in the speech, said he would not "stand still" if Congress does not bend to his will, claiming "wherever and whenever I can take steps without legislation... that's what I'm gonna do."
"Our nation would be best served if President Obama used his pen to sign bills from the Congress into laws. His phone calls should be to the members of Congress to negotiate commonsense, pragmatic legislation that is in the best interest of the American people," said Project 21's Charles Butler, a radio talk show host. "Instead, he has chosen a path of confrontation and intimidation with the people's representatives. Despite being a former constitutional law professor, one must seriously ponder if Obama understands his lawful responsibilities as the head of the executive branch of the federal government."
Obama made tonight's taunts before lawmakers, justices and others at a time when his signature health care takeover is seen as underperforming and over budget, America's stature in the world is hobbled though eavesdropping revelations and foreign policy missteps and controversial staffing moves through dubious "recess appointments" that bypassed Senate approval are now being checked by the U.S. Supreme Court to see if they pass constitutional muster. Obama also called for new regulations during his address that will likely have devastating effects on energy production and American manufacturing as he caters to the radical environmentalists' global warming agenda.
"Whatever happened to 'hope and change?" asked Project 21's Joe Hicks , a former executive director of the Greater Los Angeles chapter of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference and the Los Angeles City Human Rights Commission.
"After all of the ginned-up rhetorical excesses of the 2008 presidential inauguration, President Obama has failed to measure up to any reasonable expectations of large-scale leadership, a sure sign that small-ball politics now define his lame-duck status. He conveyed a weak, incompetent, ineffectual, detached president -- unlike anything the nation has seen since the days of Jimmy Carter. Obama appears satisfied arguing for things he can't determine the outcome of -- such as arguing for raising the national minimum wage, arguing for immigration reform and empty threats to threaten that he'll use unilateral presidential authority to get what he wants. There is, after all, something called the Constitution. The question is, who cares what this president has to say? Given his dismal approval ratings, shockingly unpresidential behavior and abysmal performance, most Americans have simply turned off, tuned out and couldn't care less about anything this president has to say."
"The President's speech was a mix of one-sided positive reviews of policies that were mostly harmful for the majority of Americans. It was government-focused solutions to problems the private sector can resolve on its own, and gimmicky programs that will only add to the morass of the federal government," said Project 2's Hughey Newsome , a private financial specialist and regular columnist for the Daily Caller website. "The one thing that came through strongest is the thinly-veiled threat to increase the minimum wage through fiat while failing to address why wages are falling in the first place. Overregulation -- including the Affordable Care Act -- the inability to prepare our students for the jobs of tomorrow and catering to special interests reduce the number of jobs available and takes away from the ability of the worker to have the skills to demand higher wages on his/her own."
Oddly, the President, five years into his presidency and long past being able to blame his predecessor, complained that "average wages have barely budged" and "upward mobility has stalled" and "too many Americans are working more than ever just to get by." He made no connection to the taxes and regulations that play a central role in implementing his agenda.
"Instead of pressing the accelerator on plans to expand government, the President could do taxpayers and the American economy a favor by reversing course," said Project 21 Co-Chairman Horace Cooper, a former professor of constitutional law and former leadership staff member in the U.S. House of Representatives. "Starting with tax relief, a one-year freeze on new regulation and sitting down with Republicans and Democrats in Congress to develop a real solution to the entitlement crisis the President could set a new course -- one that focuses on the real problems that America faces with solutions that have been proven to work."
Going into tonight's speech, President Obama's approval rating, as measured by Gallup, Inc., was 41 percent -- with 52 percent of those polled disapproving of his job performance. A Washington Post/ABC-commissioned poll found that 55 percent of those asked disapproved of Obama's handling of the economy.
Project 21's Christopher Arps, also the founder of the black conservative social networking site Move-On-Up.org, said: "Tonight's fifth State of the Union address by President Obama officially marks the beginning of lame duck status for his presidency. His long and liberal laundry list of unattainable initiatives, coupled with his 41 percent approval rating, will fortunately transform the commander-in-chief into the 'spectator-in-chief' for his final two years in office."
Commenting on President Obama's cheerleading his health care takeover, Project 21's Dr. Elaina George , a board-certified and award-winning otolaryngologist, said: "The power to choose your doctor, and for you in partnership with your doctor to decide your course of treatment is the foundation of excellent medical care. With The Affordable Care Act, the government has inserted itself to become the final arbiter of your care and it will ultimately decide who the health winners and losers are. Proponents of ObamaCare want people to believe that the system is so broken that it can only be fixed through fundamental change. The disastrous roll-out has certainly fed the argument of single payer and there is an argument to be made that the government bailout written into the bill has actually already ushered in single payer -- since whomever controls the money controls the access and makes the rules."
"President Obama spoke on immigration reform, pre-K education spending, more 'infrastructure' spending and artificially driving up the minimum wage. The list of proposed items and all of the proposed executive actions are distractions from the failure of ObamaCare," said Project 21's Stacy Washington, a local school board officer and radio talk show host. "Instead, the President should have completely come clean on Benghazi, the IRS targeting scandal and assure Americans he plans to engage Republicans in the House on spending cuts to stimulate the economy and create jobs. He should apologize for millions of Americans losing their health care and offer to compromise on ObamaCare."
According to last month's jobless figures from the Obama Administration's own Bureau of Labor Statistics, the labor force participation rate is at a modern low of 62.8 percent (a low not seen since the Carter Administration). A record number of people are on food stamps and disability payments drawn from the Social Security Administration are at all-time highs.
"Five years into the President's so-called recovery -- a recovery that feels worse than the actual recession -- it's safe to say that his administration has shown a remarkable and indefensible indifference to the U.S. economy at the expense of millions of Americans. And he doesn't seem bothered by it," said Project 21's Derryck Green , who writes a monthly analysis about the economy for Project 21 monthly when federal jobless estimates are announced. "With the unemployment rate dropping because over 92 million Americans are out of the workforce; a labor-force participation rate matching a 35-year low; 47 million Americans on food stamps and emergency unemployment benefits close to being extended, issues such as minimum wage and wealth redistribution -- though characteristic of an unsound and unserious economic strategy -- aren't the solutions that are going to jumpstart a lagging economy. The President apparently prefers empty campaign-style rhetoric to serious, thoughtful and productive economic policies."
"It was all too clear tonight that President Obama will continue on a narcissistic path. Obama throws out the populist rhetoric, but the truth of the matter is that the massive growth in government and government dependency, income inequality and millions losing their health care coverage is a direct results of his failed policies," said Project 21's Kevin Martin, a small businessman and Navy veteran. "Tonight's State of the Union speech was nothing more than a rehash of tired rhetoric from the last five years. And there will be very little positive results even with the threat of unilateral executive action. Tragically, Obama refuses to alter the course that has seen his approval levels sink to the lowest of his presidency."
Since 2010, black conservatives affiliated with Project 21 have provided an annual post-speech analysis of the President's State of the Union address. In 2013, members of Project 21 participated in just under 1,000 interviews that included CNN, Fox News Channel, Reuters, the Westwood One Radio Network, Bloomberg News, WHO-Des Moines, KDKA-Pittsburgh and KOA-Denver as well as more than 700 op-ed commentary and media citations in publications such as the Christian Science Monitor, U.S. News and World Report, BusinessWeek, the Daily Caller, the Baltimore Sun, American Spectator and Huffington Post.
Project 21, a leading voice of black conservatives for over two decades, is sponsored by the National Center for Public Policy Research, a conservative, free-market, non-profit think-tank established in 1982.