POLITICS: White House

Critics assail Obama's 'State of the Union' address

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Photo - President Barack Obama is greeted after giving his State of the Union address during a joint session of Congress on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday Feb. 12, 2013. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
President Barack Obama is greeted after giving his State of the Union address during a joint session of Congress on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday Feb. 12, 2013. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
Politics,White House,Alan Blinder,News Alert

Democrats welcomed President Obama's State of the Union Address Tuesday as an unflinching endorsement of progressive policy, but Republicans were equally quick to assail Obama's message as little more than a partisan rallying cry.

"Barack Obama outlined a bold vision worthy of the country that elected him to a second term," Rep. Louise Slaughter, D-N.Y., said on Twitter. "I'm hopeful about the state of our union, and I'm confident that together we can build a brighter future for our kids and grandkids."

But Rep. Kevin McCarthy, the third-ranking House Republican, said that Obama "told Americans that only his ideas matter, only his way is acceptable and only people that voted for him should have a voice in solving our nation's problems."

The GOP's criticism, much of it carried in hundreds of Internet postings throughout the president's appearance, began early as Obama urged Congress to "believe in the overwhelming judgment of science and act before it's too late" to combat climate change.

Rep. Paul Gosar, R-Ariz., said the country needed "an all of the above energy solution" instead of a "war on coal."

And plenty of Republican lawmakers said Obama's energy push lacked a necessary component: construction of the controversial Keystone XL pipeline between Canada and the Gulf Coast.

But Democrats were far more receptive to Obama's ambitions.

"Protecting environment by investing in clean energy will help tackle climate change, [and] grow the economy for [the] middle class and the nation," Rep. George Miller, D-Calif., said.

They also cheered Obama's pledge to trim troop levels in Afghanistan.

"Glad to hear 34,000 troops coming home from Afghanistan," Democratic Rep. Colleen Hanabusa of Hawaii said. "Let's bring the rest home, too."

Republican hawks, though, were skeptical.

"He is deciding to conduct a significant withdrawal [of] U.S. forces by 2014 without respect to anything that may happen on the ground over the next 12 months," said Rep. Howard McKeon, the California Republican who chairs the House Armed Services Committee. "This approach seems to be needlessly fraught with risk."

And Republicans, loath to miss a chance to hammer Obama's economic policies, did not let up Tuesday.

"The Obama economy is marked by persistently high unemployment, stagnant growth and excessive spending that is holding back hiring," said Texas Rep. Kevin Brady.

Democrats said, though, that Obama's call for improvements to education would ultimately bolster the economy.

"Preparing students for higher education and the workforce is key to meeting all industry needs," said Rep. John Dingell, D-Mich. "I support these investments."

They also hailed Obama's new push to raise the minimum wage.

"Thrilled to see president call for overdue increase," said Rep. Mike Honda, D-Calif., who described Obama's call as "a big step."

But that proposal drew quick and ample fire from the GOP.

"Americans can't work full time to get minimum wage due to healthcare rules that destroy jobs," said Rep. Tom Price, a Georgia Republican.

Republicans did offer some praise, though, for Obama as he warned Iran that the United States would "do what is necessary" to keep that country from developing nuclear weapons.

"Glad to hear we will prevent Iran from getting nukes," said Rep. Doug LaMalfa, R-Calif. "Something we should all agree on."

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Alan Blinder

Staff Reporter, D.C. City Hall
The Washington Examiner