UT - SD County lawmakers react to Obama's speech
Mark Walker - San Diego County's congressional delegation Tuesday night echoed the partisan divide heard across the Capitol after President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address.
Democratic freshman Rep. Scott Peters said he liked much of what he heard during the speech before a joint session of Congress.
“People are really counting on Washington to make things work, and there’s a glimmer of hope in that with the completion of our first budget in years," he said. "It’s up to Congress to help the president create jobs and grow the economy.”
But Peters said the partisan split continues to thwart movement on legislation such comprehensive immigration reform, which Obama called on House of Representatives to enact.
“I had dinner with a bipartisan group after votes on Monday and they (Republicans) are still indicating that there’s a lot of resistance,” he said.
Peters was joined by Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Vista, in frowning on Obama’s vow during his sixth State of the Union speech to go around Congress and invoke executive privilege on matters such as raising the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour for workers employed under federal contracts.
“The president laid out his vision to once again bypass Congress to use executive orders to run the country and to legislate from the Oval Office,” said Issa, a seven-term lawmaker entering his last year as chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee that has dogged the Obama administration.
“This isn’t the American way, courts have not supported his past attempts and he only does damage to the American people’s confidence in government when he doesn’t work with Congress to pass real reforms.”
Issa also decried government intervention in general.
“Americans always excel when government respects their rights to liberty and their right to do what they believe is best, to strive to succeed, to fail at times, to get up and strive again,” he said in a prepared statement.
“The American dream is not about a guarantee, it’s about the guaranteed rights to succeed or fail on our own merits. That’s where job creation comes from, that’s where Americans want to be, and that’s where the president failed to be tonight.”
Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-Alpine, was clear that he didn’t think much of the president’s speech.
“Nothing was a surprise, and I’m not convinced much of it will resonate,” he said. “For the president to repeatedly assert that he will act without Congress is sure to invite more frustration and more push back from both parties in Congress.”
Rep. Susan Davis, D-San Diego, said she thought the president gave “a great speech.”
“I thought it came together very nicely and I liked his general themes and his challenge that people can either help or hinder the progress of the country,” she said.
She particularly liked the president’s call for wage equality and workplace fairness for women, and she claimed partial credit for one of the lines in Obama’s more than hour-long address.
“We have really focused on the needs of women in this economy, particularly when it comes to single moms and women in the sandwich generation taking care of kids and their parents," she said. "I was with a group of women who suggested that he say that women’s success is America’s success.”
That mention came when Obama called for equal pay for equal work and employer policies that don’t penalize women for having to take time off for child care of to help a sick parent. Obama’s specific remark was “I firmly believe that women succeed, America succeeds.”
Sen. Barbara Boxer called a “humble speech” that credited the American people for climbing out of the depths of the Great Recession.
She also lauded the call to raise the minimum wage, pass immigration reform and extend prekindergarten to every 4 year old.
The chair of the Senate’s Environment and Public Works Committee also hailed the call for action to fight climate change through better fuel economy standards for trucks.
“As the president said, we owe it to our children and grandchildren to do everything in our power to protect them from the devastating impacts of climate change,” Boxer said in a prepared statement issued by her office.
Freshman Democratic Rep. Juan Vargas, D-San Diego, was not immediately available for comment.