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State of the Union: O.C. Congress Members React - OC Register

Unsurprisingly, Orange County's Congress members either hated or loved President Barack Obama"s State of the Union address tonight, depending on which side of the aisle they sit on.

"I thought the speech was nonsensical and contradictory," said Rep. John Campbell, R-Irvine. "He talked about producing more oil, then he bashed the oil companies. He talked about creating dozens of new programs and then said we need to reduce the deficit. I just walked away confused."

And Obama's pitch that the job picture is steadily improving?

"Certainly some jobs have been created since the bottom of the recession -- it's the truth, but it's not the whole truth," Campbell said. "The population has grown. The unemployment rate hasn't changed much. The American people out there aren't going to buy that."

Rep. Loretta Sanchez, D-Santa Ana, praised several parts of Obama's speech, especially the parts dealing with the economy.

"I was glad a majority of his speech focused on our economy and the changes we must implement in order to get us back on track," she said. "A growing divide exists within our middle class, and this divide will continue until we implement real reform to our tax structure -- both for families and for corporations. We must put into place a fair tax structure that eliminates tax breaks for the top two percent of income earners -- the rich must pay their fair share. " Read all of her written statement.

The main issue that caught the attention of Rep. Ed Royce, R-Fullerton, was Obama's discussion of the debt.

"He showed no leadership on confronting the debt," Royce said. "Under the president's current budget, we'll never have a balanced budget, not in 5 years, not in 10 years, not in 20 years. With his call for additional spending, he should have explained what it would do to the deficit. The reality is that curtailing spending is not what we're getting from him.

Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, R- Costa Mesa, said there's a reason why Obama's speech may have sounded like it had something for everybody.

"The American people should be disappointed that instead of conducting a serious discussion with the nation, President Obama instead demonstrated his political agility by taking a stand on both sides of every major issue," Rohrabacher said.

"He profusely praised the military yet he is the strongest advocate for cutting the military. He pledged himself to an "all of the above' policy to make America energy independent but just a few days ago nixed the Keystone Pipeline, one of the country's most important energy projects. He bragged about bailouts early in the speech and by the end of the speech proclaimed there should be no more bailouts. He puffed out his chest on Iran yet was demonstrably absent when not too long ago the Iranian people marched for democracy in the streets of Tehran."

Rep. Ken Calvert, R- Corona, said the speech was more one of a candidate than of a president.

"In the nearly 20 years I've been here, it was the most political State of the Union speech I've heard," Calvert said. "It was clear he was laying the ground for his campaignÂ…. It will be interesting to see what all the details are when he rolls them out."

Rep. Gary Miller, R-Diamond Bar, focused on the jobs aspect of the Obama's speech.

"The President spoke eloquently about the importance of job creation," Miller said. "Actions speak louder than words, however. Just last week, this Administration rejected the permit for the Keystone XL Pipeline, claiming that it does not serve our national interest. It seems to me that this project, which would create thousands of jobs, lessen our dependence on oil from unfriendly nations, and help ease the burden of high gas prices on workers and families is clearly in our national interest."

Moving to the state's senators, here's what Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein had to say:

"Two items stood out for California," she said. "First, housing. The president rightly focused on underwater homes and holding lenders accountable. Second, jobs. The president outlined a series of areas -- from tax reform and education to energy policy and manufacturing -- that need immediate attention to strengthen the economy, create jobs and help struggling middle-class families."

And Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer:

"The President's eloquent optimism stands in marked contrast to the angry tone Americans have been hearing on the campaign trail from his opponents," Boxer said. "I welcome his call to action for us to work together to strengthen the middle class, create clean energy jobs, help responsible homeowners stay in their homes, protect the environment from toxins such as mercury and rebuild America's infrastructure."

"I will do everything I can to bridge the partisan divide and we can start right away by passing a bipartisan surface transportation bill that saves or creates millions of jobs."


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