Some lawmakers disgusted with Obama’s economic policies, others positive

President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address on Tuesday night rankled some local federal legislators but encouraged others.

U.S. Rep. Tom Marino, R-Cogan Station, was in the first group, frustrated by the seeming lack of proposals with real change behind them.

“Not surprisingly … the president failed to offer America any new solutions to the challenges we face,” Marino said. “(He) could have proposed policies to spur private sector job creation by working with Republicans to lower health care costs, rein in Washington’s out-of-control spending and cut bureaucratic red tape. (He) reaffirmed his commitment to recklessly increasing spending without budging on reasonable offsets.”

Marino called Obama’s policies “failed” and his promises “broken,” saying they resulted in about 8 million underemployed Americans, 5 million canceled health-insurance plans and more.

To address these issues, Marino said he stands ready to “work with anyone – Republican, Democrat or Independent – to create opportunities for hardworking Americans and address the debt and deficit.”

Rep. Glenn “GT” Thompson, R-Howard, also spoke to the cooperative mindset, saying, “I would encourage the president to continue on this path and to focus on areas where we can find common ground,” citing the bipartisan budget deal and recently passed farm bill as proof that can happen.

Thompson listed issues that are, as he called, “ripe for collaborative action” – such as “comprehensive tax reform, the further development of domestic resources and technologies and expanding job opportunities through the promotion of education and job training at all levels.”

Thompson elaborated that, regarding energy production, the House and Senate approved the Keystone pipeline.

“Unfortunately, the Obama administration has attempted to use every excuse in its ongoing obstruction of the project. I think this is an issue that has real potential when it comes to reaching consensus,” he said.

With education and job training, Thompson said the House passed legislation that modernizes federal workforce development programs, but it awaits Senate action.

Contrary to Marino’s apparent disgust with Obama’s economic policies, Sen. Bob Casey, D-Scranton, expressed appreciation for the president’s focus on jobs in the address, while noting many still greatly struggle to “get back on their feet.”

“I was encouraged by the president’s emphasis on worker training programs, hiring incentives and pay equity to ensure workers have the chance to get ahead,” Casey said.

Casey advocates responsible development of natural gas and welcomed Obama’s stated support of cutting red tape to help states build factories that use natural gas.

“(This) will help create jobs in Pennsylvania while at the same time decreasing our dependence on foreign oil,” Casey said.

He also supports Obama’s stated commitment to early education and said he, too, wants to make a bipartisan effort to advance the efforts.

Similar to Marino’s sentiments, Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Zionsville, said Obama’s policies have accentuated the very problems Obama decried in his address without recognition.

“Now he is threatening to double down on those failed policies with unilateral executive fiats that may exceed his constitutional and legal authority,” Toomey said.

Further, the economy has not recovered to the extent Obama claimed, Toomey argued, saying, “the labor force participation is at its lowest point in 35 years because more and more people have become so discouraged with our dismal job market that they have given up looking for work in the Obama economy.”

Toomey said he has a bill that will help small businesses grow while giving American workers a fair shot.

He, too, supports the Keystone XL pipeline for its job creation and energy independence possibilities.

Toomey did agree with Obama on the need for Trade Promotion Authority.

“On a bipartisan basis, we must allow the president to complete trade deals that will open up foreign markets for Pennsylvania exports. While we disagree on other economic issues, I am reassured that our president remains committed to maintaining America’s role as a global trade leader,” he said.