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Locals, officials react to State of the Union address

Parkersburg News and Sentinel

PARKERSBURG – Reaction to President Obama’s State of the Union address on Tuesday night from local and government sources was mixed.

On the local front, Greg Smith, retired lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Air Force with 22 years of service and current commander of VFW Post #8127 in Vienna, spoke on the president’s speech.

Overall, Smith did not agree with many comments made by President Obama, he said. Throughout the State of the Union, President Obama made many references to the bedrock of America, Smith said.

“American leaders are built by integrity and credibility, leaders lead by example,” Smith said. Those leaders “are what our nation needs to go back to its bedrock,” he said.
While Obama proposed many new programs during the speech, Smith was uncertain of those plans’ ability to be put in place, he said.

“Look at the different programs he talked about,” Smith said. “Who’s going to pay for them? How will we pay for them? I believe in treating everyone fairly but people do not get something for nothing,” Smith said. “Education is something you have to work for,” he said.
Smith also felt that President Obama’s speech was too self-centered, he said.

“If you look at it from a practical standpoint, it should have reflected on America and America’s needs,” Smith said. “It had too many I’s and me’s. I think if we are to rebuild our country and go back to the values that America holds dear, it needs to be ‘we’,” Smith said.

On a national front, U.S. Rep. Bill Johnson, R-Ohio, expressed concerns over the promises of free college.

“I agree that giving our young people every opportunity to succeed is important. But nothing is ‘free’ as the $18 trillion national debt, that our children and grandchildren stand to inherit, demonstrates. Washington has to start living within its means,” Johnson said.

Johnson was also concerned about the president’s comments on the nation’s energy production, he said.

“It’s true that the oil and gas sector is doing very well, largely because of energy development on private lands,” Johnson said. “It’s also true that some industries are struggling to stay alive under this president. For example, the president and his activist regulatory agencies have proposed severe anti-coal regulations that they were unsuccessful in passing into law, that could shut down the industry, cause energy costs to skyrocket, and kill jobs for all the families that depend on it.”

U.S. Rep. David B. McKinley, R-W.Va., called for President Obama to work with Congress to make government more effective, efficient and accountable.

“President Obama addressed America and delivered a misleading outlook about our economy and what our government’s priorities should be,” McKinley said. “His priorities, like raising taxes, have no chance of being adopted and merely serve to divide the nation.”

McKinley stated that he felt Americans deserved better from the government.

“In our first two weeks, the House has passed five major, bipartisan pieces of legislation. These are common-sense solutions to improve economic opportunity, such as approving the Keystone XL Pipeline, streamlining regulations, and restoring the 40-hour work week, which was undercut by Obamacare,” McKinley said.

U.S. Rep. Alex Mooney, R-W.Va., said that Obama focused too much on maintaining bipartisan politics in his speech.

“Unfortunately, President Obama has shown tonight that he is entrenched behind Washington gridlock for the sake of partisan politics,” Mooney said. “Rather than support common sense ideas to create more opportunity for all Americans, the president continues to use unilateral executive action to push his allies’ radical agenda.”
Mooney also commented on the state of several bills currently in the works in Washington, D.C.

“The president has promised to use his veto power to halt the implementation of policies such as the Keystone XL Pipeline, which the American people strongly support,” Mooney said.
U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., said that, while the economy is recovering from years of decline, many Americans do not feel like it has recovered enough.
“Moving forward, we must remain committed to helping the middle class and boosting development so that everyday West Virginians and all Americans are able to succeed,” Manchin said.

Manchin was also concerned about the state of taxation, he said.
“I am hopeful that the president’s proposals on tax reform begin a meaningful debate to get our financial house in order. It’s past time to find a commonsense, comprehensive pathway toward fixing our long-term spending and debt problems. Our current tax system is needlessly complex, economically harmful and, often times, unfair,” Manchin said.
U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, encouraged bipartisan cooperation to continue the growth in the job market.

“Tonight, President Obama made it clear that we must not reverse course on our nation’s 58 straight months of private sector job growth,” Brown said. “We must continue to build on this momentum while ensuring that more Americans can get ahead. We do that by growing our economy in ways that make it possible for everyone – regardless of their zip code – to succeed,” Brown said.