State of the Union: Reps Weigh In on What They Want to Hear From the President Tonight

Reps from both parties say what they want to hear from President Obama tonight.

ByJohn R. Parkinson
January 25, 2011, 4:46 PM

WASHINGTON, Jan. 25, 2011 -- House representatives from both parties overwhelmingly told ABC News that President Obama's State of the Union address tonight should focus on one central front: jobs and the economy.

Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, imagined how he would write the State of the Union address if he were the president's chief speech writer.

"If the president would give the speech that I would write for him, he would acknowledge that this great Keynesian economics theory has been a mistake, and that he understands that we have to freeze our spending, stop the debt clock and get free enterprise back in play to the point where we can reduce the burden of the overall debt," King said. "I'd like to hear him use the word 'austerity.' I don't think we'll hear that."

Rep. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W. Va., said the president's address should focus on job creation, economic stability and "moving out of a recession at a pace where people know they have a future.

"The president's got to address the issue that Americans are talking about. Where are the jobs?" Capito said. "I look for him to certainly talk about drawing us together on finding common ground, but this is an issue. I'm hoping he addresses the spending problem, the debt and the deficit."

John Larson, the chairman of the House Democratic Caucus, said he hoped Obama would encourage American manufacturing as part of his plan to revitalize the economy.

'What I'm hoping to hear of course is more about job creation. We know how hard the president has worked in this area, and we know when you make it in America, every American can make it," Larson, from Connecticut, said.

"That's what's important for all the citizens listening to this speech this evening -- to put this country back to work, do it in a collaborative manner, working together as the president continues to do, to reach out to the other side and pull together on behalf of the American people."

Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla., who is helping to lead an effort tonight to distribute black and white ribbons in honor of the victims of the Tucson, Ariz., shooting Jan. 8, agreed that the president's primary focus should be on job creation and stimulating economic recovery.

"We will hear the president talk about his vision for creating jobs, turning the economy around, getting Americans back to work," Wasserman Schultz said. "It's absolutely critical that we take the next step in making sure that America is as competitive as we can be, that we're a leader in innovation, that we make sure that we are working hard to get that unemployment rate down, get people able to find a job, make sure that we can revitalize the economy, reach out across the country and ensure that we have the most competitive economy in the world."

Freshman Rep. David Schweikert, R-Ariz., said he hopes the president does not use the word "investment," which House Republicans have said is White House code for more spending and adding to the deficit.

"We've seen over the last couple of years the word 'investment' just means more spending," Schweikert said. "We need to be honest with the American people. We're broke; we're destroying our kids' and our grandkids' future. We need to step up and do what's right."

Rep. Scott Tipton, R-Colo. a freshman elected Tea Party support, called on Obama to address the nation's spiraling debt and help find jobs for the unemployed.

"We want to hear from the president exactly the message that was delivered to us from the American people: We want to have jobs, the economy and our debt addressed," Tipton said. "We've got to get this economy moving, our people back to work and we know that the debt we have is going to be unsustainable, encumbering future generations."

Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif., credited the president for focusing on innovation and competitiveness.

"I know we are going to hear about jobs, competitiveness," Waters said. "Jobs, jobs jobs. I think what he's going to say is that he has made a connection with the business community. He's going to highlight the fact that he's brought on a new head of his jobs council to create this competitive atmosphere that we need to work in, and he's going to be talking about the success of [General Electric]."

Emanuel Cleaver, the chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus, agreed with Waters and said the address's central theme should also be about working together with the House Republican majority to create jobs.

"We've had 12 months of private sector job development, and it's got to continue," Cleaver, D-Mo., said. "He's going to want to somehow convince Congress, Republicans and Democrats, to work with him. The new year offers us a door of opportunity, and he's going to want Congress to oil the hinges, and if that is what he presents, there is some possibility that that might happen."

Chairwoman of the Tea Party Caucus, Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., said she wants to hear Obama's plan for a pro-job growth agenda among a number of other proposals, perhaps previewing her own rebuttal tonight to the president's address.

"I want to hear what the president's pro-job growth agenda is, because so far, that's been a failure for the last two years. We've had unacceptably high levels of unemployment," Bachmann said.

"No. 2, I want to know what specific cuts the president is proposing for the new budget going forward. We cannot continue to sustain these huge spending increases, because they're leading to massive deficits. So what are his specific cuts? No. 3, what [part] of his current agenda ... will the president be willing to repeal? We need to repeal some of these job-killing measures that he's passed in the past two years. No. 4, what are the specific regulations that he is willing to get rid of, like for instance, with the EPA, is he willing to pull back on putting cap and trade in place? No. 5, I want to know about what is he going to propose about encouraging American energy resource production. We have tremendous, fabulous resources here for American energy. Gas is now well over $3 at the pump. What is the president going to propose about legalizing American energy production?"

Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan, the chairman of the Republican Study Committee, who helped proposed a $2.5 trillion spending cuts package last week, said he hoped the president would accept some of the committee's ideas to rein in spending.

"I hope he understands that we need real and dramatic spending cuts because the situation is so serious, to get this country back on the right path we gotta have real spending cuts and move toward a balanced budget," Jordan said. "That's I think the most important thing facing the country right now."

Rep. Tim Scott, one of the freshmen chosen for a seat at the House GOP's leadership table, said he would like to see President Obama address the economy and also pledge to repeal health care.

"My hope is that the President tomorrow will start talking about the corporate tax rate, reducing it, making sure that we have no punitive approach to bringing resources back to America, that we can grow our economy through our private sector," Scott, R-S.C., said. "Secondly, I'd like to hear...something about reforming and, or even repealing health care. I'm a dreamer. Third thing I'd say is you have to have substantial spending cuts to grow our economy. If we have substantial spending cuts to grow our economy, we talk about repealing or reforming health care, we'll be heading in the right direction."

Rep. Adam Kinziner, who is 32 years old and a member of the Air Force Reserves, said he's looking for the president to outline a plan to get the economy back on track - starting with spending cuts.

"Both sides are gonna have to lay down their arms and you know say okay, what are we going to do that we can agree on, that we can really ensure the fiscal solvency of our country going forward," Kinzinger, R-Illinois, said. "We need to talk about how to get people back to work. I mean that's going to be the key. I don't believe the government creates jobs. We can create an environment for jobs to be created. And so if we hear a lot about cutting spending and some serious proposals and we talk about how to get people back to work, then I'll think it's going to be a good speech."

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