Local leaders respond to speech

Published 10:27 pm Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Republican leaders from Virginia spent Wednesday firing back at President Barack Obama’s State of the Union speech delivered Tuesday night.

Obama used the election-year speech to tout his policies and proposals on the economy, education, government regulations, energy, taxes, immigration and foreign policy.

“The state of our union is getting stronger,” Obama said. “And we’ve come too far to turn back now.”

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Obama asked Congress to work on bills that would reward businesses that create American jobs, impose a minimum tax on multinational companies and give American manufacturers bigger tax cuts.

“If you’re a business that wants to outsource jobs, you shouldn’t get a tax deduction for doing it,” Obama said. He also announced the creation of a Trade Enforcement Unit that would investigate unfair trading practices and inspect counterfeit or unsafe goods from coming into the country.

Talking about higher education, Obama threatened colleges and universities with decreased public funding if they “can’t stop tuition from going up.” In K-12 education, he also proposed that every state require students to stay in high school until they graduate or turn 18 and proposed giving schools flexibility to “stop teaching to the test” and replace underperforming teachers.

Obama gave several directives on the energy front, as well. He ordered his administration to open 75 percent of the nation’s offshore oil and gas resources and allow the development of clean energy on public land.

He also promised to decrease government regulations, asked Congress to stop a tax hike on 160 million Americans and laid all options on the table to prevent Iran from getting nuclear weapons.

Virginia’s Republican leaders said the speech was simply more empty promises.

“Hardworking American taxpayers rise early and go to bed late,” Rep. J. Randy Forbes, a Republican, said in a statement. “I’m sure they are angry with Washington speechwriters who talk about bringing new values to government. Values that can regulate light bulbs, but cannot regulate government spending. Values that ban prayer and faith from public places. Values that talk about jobs, but only manufacture regulation and red tape.”

Former Gov. George Allen, a candidate for U.S. Senate, said he envisions a better future.

“In the heart and spirit of the American people, there is a reservoir of optimism and belief in our ability to achieve the American dream,” he said. “Americans share my view that we should be limited only by our imagination, ingenuity and hard work.”