Local Pols React to State of the Union Address
Montgomery County Commissioners' Chairman Josh Shapiro was among those in attendance.
- February 12, 2013
President Obama's State of the Union speech on Tuesday night elicited a mixed response from local political attendees and observers, with praise and criticism mostly, but not exclusively, falling along partisan lines.
Josh Shapiro, Chairman of the Montgomery County Board of Commissioners, who attended the speech as a guest of Congressman Chaka Fattah, said the speech was "chock full of specifics."
Shapiro said Obama's proposed "Fix-It-First" program, which would address "urgent repairs" such as those needed on the country's roughly 70,000 structurally deficient bridges, was one of two issues he "pulled out of the speech" as having particular local relevance.
"Fix-It-First," Shapiro said via telephone Tuesday night, "certainly will generate revenue to help us repair our 63 structurally deficient roads and bridges around the county."
Shapiro also said the county's developing plans to renovate the county courthouse were in tune with the President's call during the State of the Union speech for states to "construct more efficient buildings," with a goal of halving the amount of energy wasted by American homes and businesses over the next 20 years.
Congresswoman Allyson Schwartz said President Obama's speech comprised "a bold vision to grow America’s middle class and strengthen our economic competitiveness."
"Investing in infrastructure, advanced manufacturing and new sources of energy will expand business and job opportunities," Schwartz said in a statement released to the media.
Rob Gleason, Chairman of the Republican Party of Pennsylvania, said that Schwartz needed to "stand up to President Obama and present her own plan to get our economy moving."
In a statement released on the party's website, Gleason said Obama had "time and again" presented grand ideas to the American people, then "failed to follow through on promises to deliver fiscal responsibility."
Sen. Pat Toomey (R) said he disagreed with the idea that "we ought to raise taxes yet again," but said he would be "delighted" to work with the Obama administration to "put us on a sustainable fiscal path." Toomey called on Obama to repeal a federal tax on medical devices, which he said was costing the state thousands of jobs.
"I was glad the president tonight addressed both the need to bring our out-of-control spending and deficits under control and that he spent a lot of time focusing on the need for economic growth and job creation," Toomey said.
In response to the President's energy proposals, Toomey also called for action on the proposed Keystone Pipeline, which would carry crude oil from the so-called "tar sands" of western Canada to oil refineries in Texas. The pipeline would "create thousands and thousands of jobs - including many in Pennsylvania," Toomey said. Canada is the single largest source of U.S. oil imports, according to a recent report in The Hill. The pipeline is opposed by environmental groups.
Sen. Bob Casey, who said he sat next to Toomey during the speech, praised what he called the President's "recognition that as much progress as has been made … all of the good indicators … is tempered by the reality that too many people are out of work. In Pennsylvania, more than a half-million people are out of work. That number is far too high. As much as we've made progress, we're not out of the ditch yet."