‘Crisis has passed’

Published 9:33 pm Wednesday, January 21, 2015

President declares victory; Forbes not so sure

President Barack Obama’s upbeat State of the Union address has been roundly blasted by a Republican congressman representing Suffolk, while one of Virginia’s voices in the Senate, a Democrat, reflected more positively but not without reservation.

Obama was combative Tuesday, where many expected he might’ve been more conciliatory toward Republicans, now controlling both houses of Congress after the electoral drubbing Democrats suffered in November.

Obama said he would veto any moves to unravel his signature health care legislation, new rules on Wall Street or executive immigration reforms, as well as to impose any new sanctions on Iran.

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“If a bill comes to my desk that tries to do any of these things, it will earn my veto,” he said.

Via telephone Tuesday night, Rep. Randy Forbes-R said that the president might have claimed he is open to ideas, but his message to lawmakers was, “I’m going to veto them before I even read the bill.”

Sen. Tim Kaine said Obama knows he cannot move his agenda forward alone. “He will need to work with Congress and be willing to find compromise.”

The president announced a series of measures he will pursue as part of a focus on “middle-class economics,” including mandatory sick leave, raising the minimum wage, tax cuts and more slots to increase access to child care, and two free years of community college for students who keep their grades up and graduate on time.

Declaring the “shadow of crisis has passed, and the state of the union is strong,” Obama said America’s economy, after years of stagnation, is on an upward trajectory. But he also suggested too many hard-working Americans miss out, while those at the top prosper.

“Let’s do more to restore the link between hard work and growing opportunity for every American,” Obama said.

Forbes said, “Walk into any of the malls across our area, and see how many stores are shut down. Ask people whether they are going to have a job six months from now.”

“Every single year of his presidency, more businesses have closed their doors than opened doors,” Forbes added. “I don’t really think he should have been taking a victory lap.”

But Kaine stated Obama “made a strong case for why America is well-positioned for success,” as well as what it would take to ensure all Americans can experience that success.

“By announcing key workforce, education and training initiatives, help for working families, as well as smart proposals to reform our unfair tax code and make middle class paychecks go further, the President made the safest bet there is — on the talent of the American people,” he said.

On the foreign affairs front, Kaine has argued that force against the Islamic State — also known as ISIS or ISIL — needs congressional approval. He said he is pleased Obama’s speech “addressed the need,” but also was disappointed at the lack of signal of intention to send a draft bill to Congress.

“Five months of war has been far too long to make our servicemembers and their families wait for a political consensus on the scope of the U.S. mission,” Kaine stated. “Additional delay — which I fear may be the case absent an administration draft — dishonors our servicemembers and further cements a dangerous precedent for the future.”

Forbes said the defense budget “continues to be slashed,” and sequestration looms, even as the world faces dangerous times.

“You don’t have diplomacy for people cutting people’s heads off,” he said.

Forbes said the president spent less time talking about foreign policy than domestic affairs “because foreign policy has been a shambles almost everywhere you look.”