President Barack Obama’s State of the Union met cautious local optimism, after he laid out several broad proposals Tuesday night.
The president called for incentives to keep college tuitions low, the creation of a veterans’ organization to help employ returning war fighters from Afghanistan and Iraq, as well as comprehensive tax reform to close loopholes on wealthy Americans.
“The defining issue of our time is how to keep that promise alive. No challenge is more urgent. No debate is more important,” Obama said, in the opening minutes of his address. “We can either settle for a country where a shrinking number of people do really well, while a growing number of Americans barely get by. Or we can restore an economy where everyone gets a fair shot, everyone does their fair share, and everyone plays by the same set of rules. What’s at stake are not Democratic values or Republican values, but American values. We have to reclaim them.”
The president was able to connect across the aisle on a few issues Tuesday, but party divides about “fairness” and what the GOP has termed “class warfare” tax reform are unlikely to mend heading into the coming election year.
Although, issues such as education did hit home on a non-partisan basis.
Congressman Dan Benishek, R-Crystal Falls, said he agreed with several of the issues the president suggested in theory.
“He gave an optimistic message for the future; that’s what the State of the Union is all about,” said Benishek, following the address. “He talked about a lot of things, a whole litany of ideas to make life better for the American people. A lot of the things he wants, I agreed with.”
Benishek said he thought the message on incentives for college tuition to keep costs down for families and students was a “good idea.”
“I can work with something like that,” he said.
The congressman also said he liked the president’s message on encouraging domestic manufacturing, but said the high rate of corporate taxes have been “forcing people to do business offshore.”
But, Benishek said he would like to see results.
“Lofty goals are great. But, just last week he killed the Keystone Pipeline. Where’s the sense in that? He talked about opening up energy resources at home and yet last week he killed the Keystone Pipeline,” Benishek said. “We’ll have to see when he puts out a budget and go from there.”
Jack Waldvogel, Emmet County Republican Party chairman, also liked some of the non-partisan issues in the president’s address, including his desire to lower the cost of higher education, although he said he didn’t know how it would accomplished “with union member teachers and labor costs equal to 80 percent of school’s total budgets.”
Waldvogel also supported the suggestion of legislation to stop insider trading by members of Congress.
“Although it’s about time for such action, I doubt it will happen,” he said.
Although some Republicans were willing to accept some of the ideas upon arrival, the president isn’t exactly picking up any crossover votes in 2012.
“Overall, he still promotes class warfare with many of his suggestions, stepping back into his Marxist/Socialist methods of governing. This is a president who will have raised our country’s national debt by an additional $6 trillion by the end of his term. We simply can’t afford another four years of him,” Waldvogel said.
While many agreed about where the nation needs to reshape its efforts, there remains strong philosophical differences about how the financial road map to recovery should look.
The president found even more critics wading into the polarized issue of tax reform.
“We need to change our tax code so that people like me, and an awful lot of members of Congress, pay our fair share of taxes. Tax reform should follow the Buffett Rule: If you make more than $1 million a year, you should not pay less than 30 percent in taxes,” Obama said.