Congressional reactions to the State of the Union

From U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif.:

Barbara Boxer“President Obama’s speech tonight was inspiring, unifying and visionary.

“He addressed two major issues facing our nation – job creation and deficit reduction. And he rightly continued his call for civility in our discourse.

“Throughout his speech, he drew on the American tradition of rising to challenges through our ability to innovate and work hard.

“The President’s priorities are in line with California’s priorities. We need a clean-energy economy that will create good jobs and keep us at the forefront of the world. We need a top-notch education system that spans from Head Start to college. We need roads, bridges, high-speed rail and other infrastructure that transport people and goods efficiently in order to move our country forward.

“The President clearly stated his intention to pursue fair deficit reduction, which I support, and he also inspired us to continue working across party lines in order to meet the many challenges required of us. I look forward to working with him and my Congressional colleagues to reach these goals and make our nation stronger.”

From Rep. George Miller, D-Martinez:

“The President is absolutely right to challenge our schools to do better. Now is the time for real, substantive changes that will transform our schools and put our students on the path to success in school and in life.

“If we want to win the future, as the President said, if we want our country to prosper, then it is time we decide as a nation that our children can’t afford for us to wait any longer. It is time we decide as a nation to take a hard look at where our schools are and where we need them to be. And it is time we decide as a nation to rid ourselves of the average label we too often receive and excel, out-perform and out-compete other countries.

“If we fail to take action to rewrite the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, we are sentencing our students to the status quo. I’ve been fighting too long to let that happen.

“Real education reform will mean more community involvement, more parental involvement, buy in from teachers and less prescription from the federal level – all of this without losing the accountability our students need to keep them on track.

“It shouldn’t matter if a student is in a school in an urban city or a rural town, in a suburban neighborhood or on a U.S. military base – every child in this country deserves the opportunity to succeed. “We can continue to make excuses or we can realize what other countries have – that our economy will not be strong if the education of all our students is not strong.”

Read more, after the jump…
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A final thought from Robert Reich on the SOTU

I was at St. Mary’s College of California in Moraga this evening to hear former U.S. Secretary of Labor Robert Reich speak about why the economy is still struggling, and our political discourse remains so bitter.

After filing my story, I walked up to the front of the Soda Activity Center to ask Reich where he expects the nation’s leaders would find the political will to address the past 30 years of flattened workers’ wages while the rich have gotten richer – a problem he says was the root cause of the recession, to be solved by expanding the earned income tax credit up through the middle class while raising marginal tax rates for the richest Americans.

He said it’s not really a “redistribution of wealth,” as I’d put it in my question, because he’s convinced the top 1 percent of Americans in the longer term would do better with a smaller share of a burgeoning economy than a larger share of a struggling economy.

“In this environment, when Republicans, have so effectively hammered home the story that our problem is government, we need politicians who have the courage to tell the truth,” Reich said.

President Obama’s State of the Union address was accurate in recognizing the need for long-term investment, innovation and international competition, he said, but didn’t address the immediate challenge of increasing demand for goods and services, and thus creating jobs. “If he doesn’t address that central issue, he’s allowing the Republicans’ story to dominate.”


‘We do big things:’ The SOTU’s full text

The full text of the president’s speech:

Mr. Speaker, Mr. Vice President, Members of Congress, distinguished guests, and fellow Americans:

Tonight I want to begin by congratulating the men and women of the 112th Congress, as well as your new Speaker, John Boehner. And as we mark this occasion, we are also mindful of the empty chair in this Chamber, and pray for the health of our colleague – and our friend – Gabby Giffords.

It’s no secret that those of us here tonight have had our differences over the last two years. The debates have been contentious; we have fought fiercely for our beliefs. And that’s a good thing. That’s what a robust democracy demands. That’s what helps set us apart as a nation.

But there’s a reason the tragedy in Tucson gave us pause. Amid all the noise and passions and rancor of our public debate, Tucson reminded us that no matter who we are or where we come from, each of us is a part of something greater – something more consequential than party or political preference.

We are part of the American family. We believe that in a country where every race and faith and point of view can be found, we are still bound together as one people; that we share common hopes and a common creed; that the dreams of a little girl in Tucson are not so different than those of our own children, and that they all deserve the chance to be fulfilled.

That, too, is what sets us apart as a nation.

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Excerpts from tonight’s SOTU address

The White House has just released these excerpts from the State of the Union address that President Barack Obama will deliver tonight:

With their votes, the American people determined that governing will now be a shared responsibility between parties. New laws will only pass with support from Democrats and Republicans. We will move forward together, or not at all – for the challenges we face are bigger than party, and bigger than politics.

At stake right now is not who wins the next election – after all, we just had an election. At stake is whether new jobs and industries take root in this country, or somewhere else. It’s whether the hard work and industry of our people is rewarded. It’s whether we sustain the leadership that has made America not just a place on a map, but a light to the world. We are poised for progress. Two years after the worst recession most of us have ever known, the stock market has come roaring back. Corporate profits are up. The economy is growing again.

But we have never measured progress by these yardsticks alone. We measure progress by the success of our people. By the jobs they can find and the quality of life those jobs offer. By the prospects of a small business owner who dreams of turning a good idea into a thriving enterprise. By the opportunities for a better life that we pass on to our children. That’s the project the American people want us to work on. Together.

Half a century ago, when the Soviets beat us into space with the launch of a satellite called Sputnik¸ we had no idea how we’d beat them to the moon. The science wasn’t there yet. NASA didn’t even exist.

But after investing in better research and education, we didn’t just surpass the Soviets; we unleashed a wave of innovation that created new industries and millions of new jobs.

This is our generation’s Sputnik moment.

UPDATE @ 3:45 P.M.: We just received excerpts from the Republican rebuttal that House Budget Committee Paul Ryan, R-Wisc., will deliver after the State of the Union address tonight. Read them, after the jump…
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McNerney to honor Giffords at district meeting

Rep. Jerry McNerney, D-Pleasanton, says his 63rd “Congress at Your Corner” constituent meeting will pay homage to Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, D-Ariz., who was critically wounded by a gunman at such a meeting early this month in Tucson.

Jerry McNerney“I’m firmly committed to being accessible to the people I represent,” McNerney, D-Pleasanton, said in a news release. “Over the past four years, I’ve held dozens of these events and always enjoyed the opportunity to hear directly from the people I represent about their thoughts and ideas. I encourage people to come share their thoughts and ideas with me.”

“In light of the tragedy in Arizona, I’m also inviting the public to attend this event to express their support for the victims of the shooting and write notes to Gabby Giffords, my dear friend and colleague. I know that personal and heartfelt words of support from our community will be greatly appreciated during this difficult time.”

McNerney will later deliver these notes to Giffords’ office in Washington, D.C. Also, to honor the shooting’s victims, his Congress at Your Corner will begin with a moment of silence.

It’ll be from 3 to 4 p.m. this Thursday, Jan. 27, at Stockton’s Cesar Chavez Central Library, 605 N. El Dorado St.

Also Thursday, Rep. John Garamendi, D-Walnut Creek, his staff and local officials will host an open house from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. at his Fairfield district office at its new, more accessible site at 609 Jefferson St., across the street from the Solano County Government Building.

John Garamendi“The people of the 10th Congressional District have entrusted me to be their representative in Washington, and to do my job, I must be accessible to the people I serve,” Garamendi said in a news release. “Our new Fairfield office is more centrally located, making it easier for my constituents in Solano County to reach out to me and my staff.”

Among those scheduled to attend are Assemblywoman Mariko Yamada, D-Davis; Fairfield Mayor Harry Price and Vice Mayor Chuck Timm; Suisun City Mayor Pete Sanchez and Vice Mayor Jane Day; Solano County Supervisor John Vasquez; and Solano Community College President Jowell Laguerre.


Mike Gravel coming to Walnut Creek



Former president candidate and Democratic U.S. Sen. Mike Gravel, of Alaska, is the keynote speaker at the Feb. 4 meeting of the Mt. Diablo Peace and Justice Center.

Gravel will talk about Wikileaks, the famous or infamous, depending on your point of view, Web site where thousands of secret U.S. documents have been posted.

Read on for for the Peace Center’s news release. Continue Reading