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POLITICAL NOTEBOOK: Local Congressmen sound off on State of the Union

Camie Young

Camie Young

Reader poll

Did President Obama's State of the Union address change your opinion about the direction of the country?

  • Yes. It made me more hopeful 16%
  • No. I feel about the same. 11%
  • No. I feel less hopeful. 73%

128 total votes.

The Democrat loved it; the Republicans, not so much.

As usual, the reaction from Gwinnett's congressional leaders to President Barack Obama's State of the Union speech this week fell along party lines.

"I agree with the President -- this is a make or break moment for the middle class and for those trying to reach it. We can go back to an economy that favors the few built on outsourcing, bad debts and phony profits or can we build an economy in President Obama's vision an economy built by American workers, powered by American energy and reflecting American values," said U.S. Rep. Hank Johnson, the Democrat whose district includes Duluth and Norcross.

"It is remarkable what President Obama has achieved in his first three years. He inherited an economy in freefall. Unemployment has fallen from 10 percent during the President's first year in office to 8.5 percent today. Consumer confidence has more than doubled since the President took office and more than 3.2 million private sector jobs have been created in the last 22 months," Johnson said. "We're making progress, we're building momentum, and we know what we have to do to rebuild a sustainable American economy with a thriving middle class and opportunity for all."

But for U.S. Rep. Rob Woodall, the very day of the speech was a disappointment.

"President Obama's speech comes on the 1,000th day of the Senate's failing to pass any kind of long-term budget proposal. It comes one day after his decision not to submit his own budget proposal as requested by law. His speech comes one week after he killed the Keystone XL Pipeline Project -- a project that would have brought thousands of jobs, more energy independence, more security, and more economic certainty to our shores. His speech comes 24 days after he chose to thwart the U.S. Constitution by appointing officers to his administration during a Senate session but without Senate confirmation," Woodall said in a statement. "All of these unfortunate milestones have passed in only the first month of the year. This pattern of the President's misguided actions -- rather than (Tuesday's) words -- are most apt to foretell what's in store for the remaining eleven months."

The Republican from Lawrenceville said he wants action instead of speeches.

"As always, the President's speech (Tuesday) was full of lofty rhetoric -- rhetoric that unfortunately and historically, has yielded disappointingly minimal results," Woodall said. "Given our nation's challenges, the American people deserve better than rhetoric. If President Obama truly believes in the bipartisanship he preached in his speech tonight, he can start the forward momentum by urging the Senate to finally pass a budget and consider the 27 jobs bills that sit at its front door."

For U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson, the party differences can be found in the definition of fairness.

"Real 'fairness' would be government doing what American families have had to do: sit around the kitchen table, prioritize spending, get their spending in line and not borrow too much money," Isakson, a Republican, said.

"When it comes to taxation, we need a comprehensive approach. The president's own commission, Simpson-Bowles, recommended that we do away with many of the current tax expenditures and tax deductions, lower the tax rate on our taxpayers and produce more income. That will bring capital off the sidelines and investment back to small business. We need a comprehensive approach, not a winners and losers approach to tax reform," he continued. "Additionally, if on the one hand, you speak of more jobs for Americans and energy security, and on the other hand, you reject 20,000 jobs, which the Keystone XL pipeline would have brought about, and 70,000 barrels of crude from Canada, one of our best friends, then you are saying one thing and doing something else--that's wrong for our country. We need leadership on energy security."

Political Notebook appears in the Thursday and Sunday editions of the Gwinnett Daily Post.

Camie Young can be reached via email at camie.young@gwinnettdailypost.com.

For archived columns, go to www.gwinnettdailypost.com/politics.