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State lawmakers share hopes for Obama’s State of the Union

Parkersburg News and Sentinel

PARKERSBURG – With a Republican tide on Election Day giving the GOP control of both houses of Congress, lawmakers definitely have ideas about what they want to hear from President Barack Obama during tonight’s State of the Union address.

“What I would like to hear and what I will likely hear are two different things,” said Rep. Bill Johnson, R-Ohio, a Marietta resident. “You would hope for the best, but it’s hard to expect anything different from this president after six years.”

Johnson said that with Republicans in the majority in both houses of Congress now, Obama has a legislative body that can and will get things done. He said he’d like to hear the president indicate he will work with Congress to address over-reaching Environmental Protection Agency regulations, stop the so-called “War on Coal,” unleash the nation’s ability to be energy-sufficient and independent and encourage job creation.

But with information released over the weekend on proposed tax increases, Johnson doesn’t expect to be on the same page as Obama.

“He’s right back to that same old, sad song- tax job creators, tax the wealthy,” he said.

Rep. David McKinley, R-W.Va., said in an emailed statement that he expects Obama to use tonight’s speech to try to convince people his policies are working by pointing to recent economic recovery.

“However, we know that even if Wall Street is booming, there are millions of Americans who are still struggling to get by,” he said.

“Rather than using this opportunity to score political points, President Obama should be promoting the places where he can work together with Congress to get something done – finding common ground on Keystone and other energy policies, fixing the problems with Obamacare and reducing waste by making the government smaller, more efficient and more accountable,” McKinley said.

In his own statement, Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, also acknowledged improvements in the economy aren’t being felt everywhere.

“The president must lay out a plan that builds on the policies that have created 58 straight months of private sector job growth, while ensuring that all Americans – regardless of their zip code – have a shot at the middle class,” he said. “We do that by increasing the minimum wage, expanding tax credits for American workers and providing access to community colleges to help train workers for new jobs in emerging industries.

“I look forward to hearing President Obama’s call for action and stand ready to work with Democrats and Republicans to accomplish these goals,” Brown said.

Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., is hopeful they will see a president who is committed to working with Congress – not against them – to accomplish the reforms voters asked for in November, according to a statement issued by her office Monday.

”(Tonight), the spotlight will be on President Obama to decide if he will meet us half way for the good of American families, jobs and our economy, or if he will continue to defy the will of the American people,” Capito said. ”If President Obama is serious about working with the new Congress, he should change his tune on the job-creating Keystone XL pipeline.

”After six years of politically motivated delays and obstruction, opponents of the Keystone XL pipeline – led by President Obama – have finally run out of excuses. The American people have spoken; they want us to build this commonsense, job-creating pipeline,” Capito said.

Capito said she was skeptical of the president’s tax reform proposal released over the weekend.

”Instead of unlocking growth in our economy that would benefit all Americans, President Obama’s proposal seeks hundreds of billions in tax increases to pay for big-government programs we can’t afford,” she said. ”In his 2014 State of the Union speech, President Obama said, ‘let’s make this a year of action.’

”Americans took that advice to heart by electing a Republican majority in both chambers of Congress in the midterm elections. It is my hope that President Obama will listen to the message the American people have delivered and work with us to get our country back on the right track.”

Freshmen Congressmen Alex Mooney and Evan Jenkins, both Republicans representing West Virginia, said the Nov. 4 election should signal to Obama that a change is needed.

“Americans sent a clear message they wanted cooperation in Washington rather than continued, overreaching rule by executive action,” Mooney said in an emailed statement. “The Republican House has already passed a number of bills the American people strongly support. … It is now on the president to put aside partisan gamesmanship and work with us in the House of Representatives to do what is right for the American people.”

Jenkins said he wants to hear proposals from Obama that will result in government that is more efficient and effective and a reduced burden on members of the middle class who seem to be working harder and earning less.

“The bottom line in his message needs to focus on how we can help hard-working taxpayers,” he said.

A spokeswoman for Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., said the senator would be sharing his thoughts leading up to the address during a conference call with media today.