Midstate congressmen have mixed reaction to State of the Union

Written by Tim Lambert and Ben Allen | Jan 21, 2015 6:13 AM

Photo by AP Photo/Mandel Ngan, Pool

President Barack Obama delivers his State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress on Capitol Hill.

(Washington) -- Republicans in the midstate's congressional delegation are expressing hope President Obama will work with their caucus, while also criticizing many of the proposals offered up in the State of the Union Address.

Congressman Charlie Dent, who represents portions of Berks, Dauphin and Lebanon counties, gives Obama mixed reviews.

"I thought at times, his tone was a little bit combative, when you know, he threw down the gauntlet that if you send me bills I don't like, I'm gonna veto them," he says. "Then at the end of the speech, he tried to be more unifying."

Congressman Scott Perry, whose district includes Adams County and portions of York, Dauphin and Cumberland counties, says the he's open to discussing the president's ideas.

But he adds it has to be done realistically.

"There's a lot of lofty goals and aspirations, but at the end of the day, as you're sitting there, you think to yourself, 'Well that's wonderful,' but the reality is we have to pay for this stuff," he says. "How's that going to happen, and whose going to do that?"

President Obama unveiled an ambitious agenda steeped in Democratic priorities, including tax increases on the wealthy, education and child care help for the middle class and a torrent of veto threats for the GOP's own plans.

Here are statements from other members of the state's congressional delegation:

Democratic U.S. Senator Bob Casey:

"I was encouraged that the President focused his address tonight on the importance of rising wages, growing incomes and strengthening the middle class. We have made significant progress over the last few years on the economy but there is much more work to be done. Too many Pennsylvanians are still struggling to make ends meet. It is time for commonsense polices that ensure hardworking middle class families are taking part in the recovery. Commonsense investments in the middle class will reward hard work, drive consumer spending and help grow the economy. I look forward to reviewing all of the specific proposals that the President outlined this evening. I will continue to fight to ensure all Pennsylvanians have the chance at a safe, secure and prosperous future."


Republican Congressman Joe Pitts, who represents portions of Lancaster and Berks counties:

"Last fall, the American voters sent a clear message to President Obama and Congressional Democrats rejecting big government. Instead of looking for common ground with the new Congress, the President is doubling down with a whole host of proposals to increase the size and scope of the federal government.

"I think there are opportunities to get things done this year. The President missed a chance to highlight the bipartisan 21st Century Cures initiative that Democrats and Republicans have been working together on since last year. I'm going to continue leading my colleagues on the Health Subcommittee to guide a bill that can help patients get access to the latest treatments faster. I hope the President can work with us there.

"My constituents did not send me to Washington to increase taxes, spending and government regulation. Where the President's proposals match up with my values, I will work with him. Otherwise, I will oppose ill-conceived proposals to put Washington more in charge of Americans' lives."

Republican Congressman Lou Barletta, whose district includes all of Columbia County and parts of Cumberland, Dauphin, Northumberland and Perry counties:

"The American people spoke with a very loud voice in the November elections, and that message appeared to reach everywhere except the Oval Office. The president said clearly that his policies were on the ballot, and they were soundly rejected. Sadly, the president has ignored the people and laid out a vision of higher taxes, more government interference, and further executive actions that circumvent the legislature.

"The economy is still struggling, and the worst thing we could do is to raise taxes on anyone - particularly those who create jobs. To increase taxes on capital gains is to discourage investment, which is exactly the opposite of what we should do to encourage economic growth. I do support cutting taxes on the middle class, but there is so much waste in federal spending, that I do not see the need to raise taxes on anyone else to provide relief to those who most need it. Redistribution of wealth is not the hallmark of a vibrant, free market economy, and I do not believe the people of the United States elected 'Robin Hood' as our president. The tax code should be made simpler and fairer for everyone.

"The promise of a more available community college education is an intriguing idea, because we know that higher education is often the ticket to a better life. I am concerned, however, about the proposal to 'federalize' the community college system, and worse, saddle states with ongoing funding mandates at a time when they cannot balance their budgets as it is. Accessible and affordable college education is an admirable goal, but as we learned with Obamacare, the government takeover of a major component of everyday life is full of problems.

"In the House, we already have voted to block his plans to grant amnesty to broad categories of illegal immigrants, because we believe it will cause undue competition for jobs, imperil our public safety, and encourage more people to break our laws. Again, the president has ignored the voice of the people and hints at even more actions to circumvent the Congress.

"The most basic break I have with President Obama is with his view of the role of the federal government. The president has surveyed the landscape of his administration, in which he has applied more and more layers of government, and concluded that the answers lie in still more government. He is like a chef who has made a dish that is too salty, and decides to fix the problem by adding even more salt."

Repubican Congressman Glenn Thompson, whose district includes portions of Juniata and Mifflin counties:

"In the short time since the beginning of the 114th Congress, the House has passed a series of bipartisan bills that will strengthen the economy, increase energy security, deter unlawful immigration, and expand opportunities for working families and veterans.

"Tonight, the President communicated that he intends to play a more constructive role in this work, and I commend him for addressing areas where there may be potential for cooperation with Congress.

"The President would best serve the American people by listening to the will of their elected representatives and showing a sign of good faith in the year ahead by signing into law the bipartisan bills that will undoubtedly be piling up on his desk."

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