Tracie Mauriello caught up with the Western Pa congressional delegation after last night's speech by the president, including Mike Kelly, who called some of the bipartisan seating arrangements phony -- funny, because a WashPost story Monday said he was part of a bipartisan working group that planned to work together. (UPDATE: Mr. Kelly was speaking about last year's arrangements and indeed sat last night with John Tierney, D-Mass.Our apologies.)
Full statements below from WPa congressmen and the state's US Senators to the speech:
Tim Murphy, R-Upper St. Clair:
Southwestern Pennsylvania families want less talk and more action to grow jobs and get our economy moving. Yes, we need more US energy production and a strong domestic manufacturing base. We also need to cut spending and stop job-crushing regulations to help our economy get back on track.
Yet the goals laid out by the President tonight are the very things his Administration is actively working to stop. If the President truly wanted to increase domestic energy production, he wouldn’t be blocking the Keystone Pipeline. If the President wanted to tackle the deficit, he wouldn’t have scuttled recommendations of his own deficit reduction commission. And if he wanted to see our factories thrive again, he’d stop borrowing from China and stand up to our trading partners that break the rules. Enough with the speeches, the time has come for the President to put words into action.
Mark Critz, D-Johntown:
“As President Obama said, this is a make or break moment for the American middle class. American workers and American innovators are still the best in the world. Let’s work together to make sure that they remain the best by leveling the playing field, promoting fair trade, ending foreign currency manipulation, tapping our domestic energy resources, and enacting commonsense solutions that create American jobs and strengthen American families."
Jason Altmire, D-McCandless:
“Tonight, the president outlined a clear path forward to restore our economy and protect working families. Western Pennsylvania is key to this plan. By focusing on energy, our region’s rich energy resources can help our regional job creation efforts while boosting our local economy. Most importantly, the president’s continued commitment to protect working Americans and consumers and hold Wall Street accountable for its actions is a reassurance to the millions of American families who have been hit hardest by the recession. President Obama was right to remind Americans of the importance the Wall Street reforms passed by Congress have had in stabilizing the financial markets and improving our overall economic outlook.
“We need to pursue policies that will create an economy that is conducive to growth, rebuild trust in our financial systems, and encourage more Americans to invest in the future. I will continue to work on these important issues while promoting fiscal responsibility and finding common ground to produce results."
Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Allentown:
“The president did suggest his willingness to work with Congress on a few pro-economic growth policies, and I will always welcome working with the president and anyone who wants to pursue ideas that will grow the economy and create jobs. However, the majority of the president’s speech was just business as usual for this administration and a retread of ideas that have already failed.
“Massive spending, tax increases, new additional regulations, and special-interest giveaways – these are the things that have helped to get us to where we are now – a weak economy without the kind of job growth that we need.
“What we need is for the president to unite Americans – not divide them, and to focus on opportunities – a growing economy that will create the jobs that we need. With unemployment at more than 8 percent and our nation’s debt at more than $15 trillion, we need to work together and pass meaningful solutions. I’m still going to fight for those policies, and I hope the president will come along with us on at least some of them.”
Sen. Bob Casey, D-Scranton:
“We face many challenges as the country recovers from the great recession - many of which were highlighted tonight. One thing, however, is clear: we need to keep the focus on jobs. I just spent several weeks back home, talking with Pennsylvanians. Everywhere I went I heard two things: create jobs and work together. We owe it to those we serve to make that our focus as well. I am grateful to have the opportunity to work with my colleagues from both chambers and from both sides of the aisle to extend the middle-class tax cuts and continue to strengthen the economy.
“I also look forward to more attention on the critical issue of manufacturing. Pennsylvania manufacturers have been hit hard by unfair trade practices by countries like China. The Senate has passed legislation to crack down on China’s currency manipulation. The House must follow suit and the Administration must do more to use its existing powers to level the playing field for U.S. workers.
“I hope that we build on the spirit of bipartisanship seen in the Chamber tonight as Democrats and Republicans sat together to create jobs and grow the economy.”
Mike Kelly, R-Butler:
“I agree with President Obama that we need to preserve the American Dream for this and future generations. The only way we can do that is by working together, in a bipartisan fashion, to put in place policies that will spur job creation and get Americans working again. That is why I supported and the House passed nearly 30 bipartisan jobs bills that will create a better climate for economic growth in America, and why I believe we need to reform the tax code to make it more fair, flat, and simple.
“I heard some good proposals from the president tonight, including his plan to remove the regulatory barriers that prevent our nation from rebuilding our nation’s infrastructure. I also agree with the president’s assessment of the potential that natural gas holds for our nation, including the fact that the natural gas industry could support more than 600,000 jobs by the end of the decade. We know that Pennsylvania has been called the Saudi Arabia of natural gas, and I’m grateful that the president recognized the role this vast natural resource can play in our efforts to create jobs and become more energy independent.
“While the president gave a good speech tonight, and there were elements of the speech I agreed with, the reality is that, in the past, the president’s rhetoric has simply failed to match his record.
“For example, in a 2009 speech before a joint session of Congress, the president promised to cut the deficit in half. Instead of delivering on that promise, he has presided over three consecutive years of trillion-dollar deficits, adding more than $4 trillion to our nation’s more than $15 trillion debt. Under President Obama’s watch, the United States’ credit rating was downgraded, which was the first time this has ever happened in the history of America.
“The economy we are facing now is Obama’s economy, and he needs to take ownership of it. Nearly 2 million more Americans are out of work since President Obama took office, and America has experienced the longest period of sustained unemployment since the Great Depression, with an unemployment rate of 8 percent or higher every month since 2009. The president has led us in the wrong direction over the past three years, but there’s time to right the ship and put aside the failed policies of the past.
“I will continue to do my part to support legislation that will help America recover from our current economic crisis, promoting policies that will increase our development of domestic energy and reform our regulations and tax code to create a more level playing field for America’s job creators. If we work together to promote these common sense solutions, I am confident that the state of our union will be better tomorrow that we find it today.”