By Keegan Gibson and Brittany Foster
1) Republicans are unlikely to throw down their arms and go along with a bipartisan plan, and 2) Democrats aren’t exactly rushing to the front line of the President’s next battle.
The majority of Pennsylvania Republicans condemned the president’s suggestions of increased spending.
“As a member of the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction, charged with finding at least $1.2 trillion in deficits reduction, I was disappointed with President Obama’s speech,” said Senator Pat Toomey. “Right now, we need to be focused on the joint goals of reducing our deficits and creating jobs, but tonight I heard the president call for hundreds of billions of dollars in increased spending.”
The prospect of more spending was unpopular with other members of the PA delegation as well, including Glenn Thompson (R-5) who said that, “With unemployment now surpassing 8 percent for more than 2 years, it was my hope that the President would move past his ‘stimulus’ spending proposals and offer real relief for our small businesses and families struggling to make ends meet.”
In addition to policy differences, some legislators took umbrage with the delivery. Mike Kelly (R-3) said that the time for grand speeches is over. “While I have no doubt that the president wants to create jobs, I question the approach he’s taken to actually get the job done. In 2009, the president gave a speech before Congress promising the American people that his stimulus bill would create jobs and keep unemployment below 8 percent. He failed to deliver on his promise.”
Jim Gerlach, Republican of the sixth district, agreed. “Ultimately, workers and employers will judge the president’s effectiveness based on his actions rather than his speech,” Gerlach said.
Rep. Pat Meehan was the sole Republican who took to heart the President’s calls for bipartisanship.
“I think the President laid out a framework that both parties in Congress can begin to work on, and find common ground to create jobs for the millions of Americans out of work,” he said.
Meanwhile, most Democrats expressed their support for the President’s efforts to focus on job creation but stopped short of embracing the plan.
Rep. Allyson Schwartz (D-Montco/Phila) commended the urgency and quality of leadership that the president provided in his speech, and Rep. Mike Doyle (D-Allegheny) is ready for a fight.
Senator Bob Casey, meanwhile, gave a lukewarm response.
“President Obama has put a number of ideas on the table tonight. I agree with some, I disagree with others and I have ideas of my own that I will continue to push.”
Reps. Mark Critz echoed Casey’s tone, while Rep. Jason Altmire was outright critical of the President.
“The President gave a nice speech tonight, but the time for speeches is long gone. The American people aren’t looking for more of the same rhetoric from Washington. Now is the time for action,” he said in a statement.
Here are the PA delegation responses we found:
Bob Casey (D-PA):
“President Obama has put a number of ideas on the table tonight. I agree with some, I disagree with others and I have ideas of my own that I will continue to push.
“I have proposed a job creation tax cut to help small businesses hire new employees, a bipartisan life sciences tax credit to create jobs in one of the leading sectors in the Pennsylvania economy and I have repeatedly called for the Administration to crack down on China’s currency manipulation that puts Pennsylvania workers at a disadvantage and is stifling Pennsylvania manufacturing.”
Pat Toomey (R-PA):
“As a member of the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction, charged with finding at least $1.2 trillion in deficits reduction, I was disappointed with President Obama’s speech,” Sen. Toomey said. “Right now, we need to be focused on the joint goals of reducing our deficits and creating jobs, but tonight I heard the president call for hundreds of billions of dollars in increased spending. President Obama has tried massive stimulus spending and it hasn’t work; most of tonight’s speech appears to be more of the same.”
Mike Kelly (R-3):
“While I have no doubt that the president wants to create jobs, I question the approach he’s taken to actually get the job done. In 2009, the president gave a speech before Congress promising the American people that his stimulus bill would create jobs and keep unemployment below 8 percent. He failed to deliver on his promise. Unemployment has averaged 9.4 percent since the ‘stimulus’ was signed into law, and more than 1.3 million jobs have been lost. All of this after spending more than 800 billion taxpayer dollars on shovel-ready infrastructure projects and other types of programs similar to what we heard about tonight.”
Jason Altmire (D-4):
“The President gave a nice speech tonight, but the time for speeches is long gone. The American people aren’t looking for more of the same rhetoric from Washington. Now is the time for action.
“At the forefront, Congress needs to pass a comprehensive reauthorization of our federal transportation law. This single piece of legislation means thousands of jobs in western Pennsylvania providing strong investments in our roads, bridges and dams. I am ready to move forward, without the partisan gridlock that has stalled our economic growth, in order to put Americans back to work.”
Glenn Thompson (R-5):
“With unemployment now surpassing 8 percent for more than 2 years, it was my hope that the President would move past his ‘stimulus’ spending proposals and offer real relief for our small businesses and families struggling to make ends meet,” said Thompson. “The unfortunate truth is that tonight’s speech was more of the same.”
Jim Gerlach (R-6) (h/t Reading Eagle):
“Everyone shares the urgency of creating jobs for the 14 million Americans out of work and allowing businesses to thrive. Preventing tax increases on families and businesses, opening new markets to American-made goods, cutting red tape and helping hard-working Americans weather this economic storm are all common-sense ideas that the House has been working to put in place for months. What the president did not acknowledge tonight is the need to get rid of the job-crushing mandates contained in the federal health care law enacted last year and implement an aggressive plan for developing more sources of American-produced fuels to lower energy costs. Also disappointing was the president’s insistence that Congress pass his entire wish list now without any specific plan on how to pay for it.”
Pat Meehan (R-7):
“I think the President laid out a framework that both parties in Congress can begin to work on, and find common ground to create jobs for the millions of Americans out of work.
“I share President Obama’s interest in finding solutions that will enable us to invest in badly needed improvements to roads, bridges and transportation infrastructure, and put people in those fields back to work. I agree we should give middle-class families and small businesses help to weather these tough times and create jobs. I support reforming our tax code by closing loopholes and tackling uncompetitive tax rates that send jobs overseas. In fact, I have put forth legislation that addresses our uncompetitive tax code. There is broad bipartisan support for easing the job-killing regulatory burdens that are stifling job creation. These proposals are not dissimilar to ideas I put forth in a newspaper column this morning.”
Mike Fitzpatrick (R-8) (h/t Inquirer):
“He’s got his work cut out for him,” said U.S. Rep. Mike Fitzpatrick, a Republican from Bucks County. “The American people are looking for a bold vision that will take us in a new direction.”
Stressing that the public realizes “the ways of Washington are not working,” Fitzpatrick said he hoped Obama would propose “serious reform” of the tax code, broadening the base of taxpayers to “alleviate the burden on those who play by the rules.”
He said he would also like to see a moratorium on the “type of regulations that have been crushing the will and the spirit of the American small-business person.”
Bill Shuster (R-9) (h/t Carlisle Sentinel):
“President Obama faces significant challenges tonight in convincing the American people that he can succeed in putting our economy back on the path of job creation and economic growth. While I look forward to hearing his proposals, I am concerned I will hear more of the same rhetoric and warmed-over policies we’ve come to expect from this administration on the economy.”
Tom Marino (R-10):
“I was struck by the President’s sense of urgency about his jobs proposal. Where was that urgency when the President was vacationing in Martha’s Vineyard? Where was that urgency six months ago or a year ago when the economy was stagnating?”
Lou Barletta (R-11) issued this statement before the speech:
“Millions of illegal aliens steal jobs from legal American workers. Even the most conservative estimates indicate that between 10 million to 12 million jobs are being stolen by illegal aliens. Imagine if we could give 10 million unemployed Americans those jobs. Think about what that would do for their families, for their communities, and for our nation,” Rep. Barletta said. “If President Obama is going to talk about jobs, he must advocate a crackdown on illegal immigration through stronger enforcement of existing law. If you take away their jobs, illegal aliens will self-deport, and millions of legal American workers will be able to fill those jobs.”
Mark Critz (D-12):
“I have been saying for over 15 months that promoting economic growth and creating jobs is the most immediate priority facing our nation. Congress must enact reasonable, bipartisan ideas and policies that jumpstart our economy, put Americans back to work, and invest in our future.
“I look forward to working with the President and my colleagues from both sides of the aisle to move our great country forward.”
Allyson Schwartz (D-13):
“American families and businesses need Congress to take action and create an environment that will foster private sector job growth. To succeed, we must restore confidence in our economy and ensure American businesses can compete.
“I commend the President’s leadership in recognizing that we must act now to stimulate job creation, even as we tackle our long-term structural deficits.”
Mike Doyle (D-14) (h/t Early Returns):
“I don’t see any reason why a Republican or Democrat can’t pass this plan. The American people don’t care who’s plan it is, they just want to see action … Any member of congress who doesn’t vote for the bill, people have a right to question whether they’re playing party politics. Will it pass? I’m going to take the optimistic approach.”
Joe Pitts (R-16) (h/t Reading Eagle):
“Because of today’s flooding I returned to Pennsylvania and was unable to attend the president’s address this evening. In the next few days I will have more time to consider the proposals that he laid out tonight. With our deficit so great, we need to carefully consider how we spend each dollar of federal money. Congress doesn’t create jobs, but we can pass laws that make it easier for the private sector to grow the economy.”
Tim Murphy (R-18) (h/t Early Returns):
“The policies the President and Congress put forth set the stage for either private sector job growth or private sector job loss. Tonight, the President continued to offer this same agenda that hasn’t created jobs and has left us with unemployment over nine percent. Our stagnant economy is reflective of the same old plan of borrowing money from overseas to grow government jobs. Borrow-and-spend is a failed economic policy that leads to job loss.”
Todd Platts (R-19):
“I was disappointed in the President’s assertion earlier this week that Republicans who disagree with his proposed solutions are putting their political needs before those of the county. Nevertheless, I will certainly consider the President’s proposals in good faith, and where we agree, such as in preventing an increase in the payroll tax, I look forward to working with him. As always, my decisions will be solely guided by the merits of the issues before me, not partisan politics.”