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Tulsa World - Obama's Speech Draws Little Support from Oklahoma's Congressional Delegation

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Location: Washington, DC

President Barack Obama's speech to Congress on jobs Thursday, as expected, failed to attract much support from members of the Oklahoma delegation.

Republican Sen. Jim Inhofe described the presidential address as more of the same failed approach he tried earlier.

"It has been said that the lowest form of learning is trial and error,'' Inhofe said.

"Unfortunately this president just doesn't learn.''

He also accused Obama of paying lip service to his administration's over-regulation, which, he claimed, is more damaging to the nation's economy than the yearly deficits.

"In addition to ending over-regulation, we need serious tax cuts and reforms to create a pro-growth environment for our economy,'' Inhofe said.

"We need leadership and action, not speeches, that will lower taxes and spur job creation. Otherwise, his proposals are unlikely to generate the economic results the country so desperately needs.''

A key player on transportation issues as the top Republican on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, Inhofe again dismissed Obama's remarks on infrastructure as nothing more than talk.

"Time and time again he has put forward an infrastructure agenda that has failed. His efforts are detrimental to getting a long-term highway bill done because it makes this issue a political one, and his track record on infrastructure is abysmal,'' he said.

Republican Rep. John Sullivan also stressed the issue of federal regulations, expressing hope that Obama will look at efforts to rein in "job-crushing federal regulations, maximize American energy production and pay down our massive debt.''

Sullivan also spoke of his own bills that go after actions by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, including one that received a hearing earlier in the day.

"In addition, while the president talks about rebuilding our infrastructure to create jobs, the policies of his administration are destroying U.S. cement sector jobs and driving up construction prices,'' he said.

"My bill, the Cement Sector Regulatory Relief Act, would save nearly 20,000 U.S. cement sector jobs by laying out a path for common sense regulation without eviscerating one-fifth of the U.S. cement sector by sending thousands of jobs permanently overseas or driving up construction.''

Republican Rep. Tom Cole sounded more open to at least taking a look at some of the president's proposals and expressed hope that Obama's speech signals a new willingness to work with Congress.

"Americans have made it clear that we will not support a return to the same failed stimulus policies that brought us 9 percent unemployment, but Congress is ready to work with President Obama on proven job creation polices like tax relief and free trade,'' Cole said.

"The infrastructure investments and tax breaks the president outlined could earn bipartisan support in Congress, but only if they are fiscally responsible. House Republicans will oppose any attempt to pay for new programs through tax hikes and more deficit spending.''

Freshman Republican Rep. James Lankford responded to the president's remarks by calling on both the White House and Congress to embrace free market-based solutions.

"We need low-cost and no-cost economic proposals such as increasing energy exploration, encouraging free trade, modernizing the patent system, streamlining the regulatory environment, allowing for the repatriation of international earnings, enacting patient-driven health care reforms and ultimately reforming our tax structure,'' Lankford said.

"Job creation and fiscal responsibility should continue to be the focus of this Congress. We welcome the White House to join us in growing our economy today and building a country of prosperity for tomorrow.''

Republican Sen. Tom Coburn welcomed Obama's challenge to Congress not to spend the next 14 months of campaigning instead of legislating.

Coburn, however, accused the president of ridiculing tax breaks for oil companies while touting tax credits for renewable energy, adding that approach does not move the nation closer to the kind of fundamental tax reform needed to stimulate the economy.

"Still, we can start with small steps,'' he said.

"Congress and the president could work together tomorrow to cut at least $100 billion - and probably much more - in duplicative spending the Government Accountability Office identified earlier this year.''

Earlier in the day, Democratic Rep. Dan Boren said he did not plan to attend the joint session to hear the president.

Instead, Boren said he would attend a reception honoring his father, University of Oklahoma President David Boren, on the 20th anniversary of the National Security Education Program, which the elder Boren helped to create while serving as chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee.

A current member of the House Intelligence Committee, the younger Boren said he has worked to expand that program.

Earlier he announced that he will not run for re-election next year.

Commenting on news reports prior to Obama's speech, Boren said he expects to support parts of the president's agenda but added that the nation now needs a bold and decisive plan that goes beyond what has been tried previously such as extending unemployment benefits.

He called for "doing some things that are outside the box,'' such as one-time tax changes designed to bring corporate profits back to the United States and a capital gains tax holiday.

"I am dubious whether or not this program that the president is advocating has a chance of passage,'' Boren said.

"What we need is something that actually can become law.''

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