By Ed Enoch
Reaction to President Barack Obama's State of the Union address on Tuesday divided along party lines among the Montgomery area's congressional representatives.
U.S. Rep. Martha Roby, R-Montgomery, criticized the president's comments on solving the nation's debt problem as "not serious," while U.S. Rep. Terri A. Sewell, D-Birmingham, praised the president's calls for bipartisanship and his domestic agenda.
In a statement released after the president's address, Roby said she was disappointed the president did not offer a more "credible plan" to replace sequestration and its "devastating" military spending cuts with alternative reductions based on budget priorities.
"Tonight we heard a speech based in liberal ideology rather than fiscal reality," The 2nd District lawmaker said. "It is obvious President Obama is not serious about addressing the nation's debt problem. Instead, he wants to raise taxes again to pay for more stimulus-type spending on government programs."
On Tuesday, the president urged Congress to "forge a reasonable compromise" and find a way to stabilize the country's financial situation with a combination of spending cuts and revenue increases.
The president called alternative proposals to protect defense spending while allowing larger domestic spending cuts an "even worse" idea.
Roby claimed the president was using the fear sequestration's impact on the military as leverage for tax increases.
"There is a smarter way to reduce government spending than to hollow out our nation's defense forces. We all know the true driver of long term debt is mandatory spending, so any serious plan to solve our debt problem has to include reforms to mandatory spending programs," Roby said.
Sewell said the president's message of bipartisanship and compromise to fix the budget was important.
"It's something we brought on ourselves," Sewell said of sequestration. " We need to stop kicking the can down the road."
Sewell said the president's emphasis on job development in his domestic agenda resonated with her.
"I just think it is really important to hear from the president a vision of how he wants to grow the middle class, " Sewell said.
Obama encouraged Congress to consider ways to increase opportunities for the middle class, including domestic job growth, home ownership and accessibility to preschool and college education. The president also urged lawmakers to act on comprehensive tax and immigration reform, pay equality for women and increasing the hourly minimum wage to $9.
"Stronger families. Stronger communities. A stronger America. It is this kind of prosperity -- broad, shared, and built on a thriving middle class -- that has always been the source of our progress at home. It is also the foundation of our power and influence throughout the world," the president said.
Sewell said she believes the president's message resonated with her constituents in the 7th district, where job creation remains the top concern.
"The No. 1 issue in my district is job creation," Sewell said.