Bay Area lawmakers react to SOTU

From Rep. Mike Honda, D-San Jose:

honda.jpgI applaud the President’s talk tonight regarding jobs and technology. We must ensure the resilience of the American worker, and the adaptability and innovation inherent in our economy, to keep us at the forefront of global competitiveness.

This is the Silicon Valley way of life and business, where the manufacturing sector employs 1 in 5 workers (more than twice the national average), where breakthrough ideas are cultivated, and where the world’s most successful visionaries and businesses call home.

If we renew our national commitment to winning the manufacturing jobs of the future, bringing Silicon Valley sense to Washington, and employ strategies that play to our nation’s natural strengths, we should see a new golden age of American manufacturing.

That is exactly why my legislative platform, introduced this week, will reinvigorate a critical component of our national economy by focusing on three components: Next-generation technologies, startups and small manufacturers, and re-shoring production lines from overseas.

• The Market Based Manufacturing Incentives Act empowers an apolitical commission of private-sector experts to designate the next generation of disruptive, market-changing technologies.

• The Scaling up Manufacturing Act, endorsed by the American Small Manufacturers Coalition, the American Chemical Society, and Silicon Valley’s own Applied Ventures, provides support to this nation’s entrepreneurs at the most critical stage of their business’s growth. This proposal stops offshoring before it ever starts, keeps our bourgeoning businesses here at home, and helps turns ideas into success stories.

• The Re-Shoring Bonus Deduction Act is a draft proposal aimed at promoting growth in domestic manufacturing among this nation’s most established and global enterprises. We should reward companies that bring jobs back to the United States and contribute to our nation’s economic growth by employing American workers.

Additionally, my STEM agenda for the 113th Congress supports Obama’s SOTU call for leadership in these fields. Science, technology, engineering and mathematics must be infused into our public school curriculum, emphasized within the clinical teaching preparation programs and applied into vibrant learning experiences in the classroom.

In order to keep Silicon Valley competitive and stocked with highly-skilled, creative workers, we must improve STEM education coordination on a national scale. For our nation to remain a leader in scientific advancement and technological innovation, this is what is required of us, nothing less. It is time to step up and STEM it.

From Rep. Mike Thompson, D-Napa:

Mike Thompson“The state of our union is getting stronger, but we have more work to do. Whether it’s creating jobs, getting our fiscal house in order, fixing our broken immigration system, or putting policies in place that respect the Second Amendment while also reducing gun violence, our nation faces big challenges. We won’t overcome these challenges as Democrats versus Republicans – we must meet them together as Americans.

“We need to put people to work fixing our roads, bridges, overpasses and waterways while also building an economy that can compete long-term by investing in new industries like clean energy. To get our fiscal house in order, we need a balanced approach that focuses on job creation, makes sure taxpayers are getting the most bang for their buck, and reforms our tax code so everyone pays their fair share. We need to avoid manufactured crisis that do nothing but hurt our economy. And, we need a bipartisan, comprehensive fix to our broken immigration system.

“Finally, tonight President Obama once again called on Congress to pass legislation that will reduce gun violence. Last month the President acted by signing a series of executive actions that will have a meaningful impact on reducing gun violence. But as we know, the policies that would have the greatest impact require congressional action.

“Whether you’re an NRA member like Elvin Daniel, the guest I hosted at tonight’s State of the Union, a hunter and gun owner like me, or one of the millions of Americans who have never fired a gun, we can all agree that when thirty-plus people die every day from gun violence that it’s time for Congress act. My task force is already acting. Last week we released a comprehensive set of policy principles that both respect the Second Amendment Rights of law-abiding Americans and will prevent gun violence. We’re using these policy principles to develop and influence legislation in both the House and Senate and are working to get legislation based on these principles signed into law.

“But this can’t just be a Democratic effort. It’s time for our colleagues on the other side of the aisle to work with us and use the principles we developed to put laws in place that respect the rights of lawful Americans to own firearms and make our schools, neighborhoods, communities and country safer.

“As the 113th Congress moves forward, I will continue working to overcome the challenges we face. And I am confident that if we put the partisanship aside and work together then our nation has even better days ahead.”

More after the jump…

From Rep. George Miller, D-Martinez:

“The President laid out a bold, common sense and critical agenda to grow our economy, strengthen the middle class, and reduce inequality in America. I applaud his call to raise the minimum wage, to reform taxes to ensure the wealthiest pay their fair share, and to ensure an affordable and quality education at all levels, from early childhood through college. I am ready to work with him to reduce global warming, reform our immigration laws, and reduce gun violence. I hope my Republican colleagues are ready too. The President told Congress to stop manufacturing partisan fiscal crises that undermine our economy but join him instead to create manufacturing jobs that will grow the middle class. I couldn’t agree more.”

From House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-San Francisco:

“Tonight, President Obama spoke directly to the American people about solutions to our most pressing challenges: how to create growth with jobs, strengthen the middle class, and responsibly reduce the deficit. His agenda is a reflection of the fundamental American values of opportunity, equality, and fairness for all. His proposals reflect a core vision shared by House Democrats: that a strong, thriving middle class is essential to a strong, prosperous America.

“The President’s objectives match the priorities of House Democrats. It is time to create jobs through manufacturing, investments in education and training, and support for clean energy jobs and a modern infrastructure. It is time to heed the President’s call for real progress to reverse the rising tide of climate change, enact comprehensive immigration reform, and prevent gun violence.

“Democrats agree with the President that vigorous debate is a sign of the strength of our democracy, but endless debate is not the path to progress. Let’s work together and act now to create jobs, spur economic growth, bolster the middle class, and bring down the deficit in a balanced way.”

From Rep. Eric Swalwell, D-Pleasanton:

“Tonight President Obama presented a vision for America that will move our economy forward and help create jobs. Our economy is on the right track, but more must be done to put us on a sustainable path forward. I will join the President to fight for policies that will strengthen our middle class and pursue balanced deficit reduction measures. The burden of deficit reduction should not be shouldered by the middle class and seniors.

“I am proud that in the Bay Area we are an innovation center leading the world in technological achievements, and I commend the President for recognizing the high-growth opportunities in the clean energy sector. As the Ranking Member of the Science, Space and Technology Subcommittee on Energy with two national laboratories in my district, I believe federal investments in clean energy are smart for our economy and our environment, enabling us to create jobs and address the threat of climate change.

“Growing our economy also includes fixing our broken immigration system. We need to allow high-skilled workers educated at American universities an opportunity to stay and help build our economy and create jobs. We also need to create a pathway to citizenship for workers already part of our communities.

“Tragically, we have too often had to mourn the victims of mass shootings and as a prosecutor I often saw impact of gun violence on our communities. As the President stated, the time is now to take common-sense measures to reduce gun violence including closing background check loopholes. I am working with my colleagues in the House to ban access to military-style assault rifles, which already exists under California law.

“We have big challenges facing our country, but I have never underestimated our ability to do big things. I am hopeful that Congress will come together to move our economy forward.”

From U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif.:

“The president tonight correctly focused on jobs and the economy. Congress must work to reform the tax code and make investments that promote jobs and growth while continuing to bring our deficit under control. I was pleased the president talked about investing in manufacturing, educating our workforce and cleaner energy to fight climate change, all of which are necessary for our middle class to compete in a global economy.

“I also believe Congress must confront the looming sequester cuts, which could cost California more than 200,000 jobs if fully implemented. I support the president’s call for a more responsible package of spending cuts and revenue measures that will lead us to fiscal sustainability without crippling our economic recovery.”

“The president tonight repeated his call for Congress to pass commonsense reforms to our nation’s gun laws. I appreciate his leadership in the ongoing struggle to remove weapons of war from our streets and require universal background checks. It’s only through reasonable laws like the Assault Weapons Ban of 2013, which the president supports, that we will finally begin to see a decline in the terrible mass shootings that have devastated families and traumatized the nation.”

“I’m pleased the president outlined steps to fix our broken immigration system in ways that are fair and sensible. We must meet the needs of families and workers while providing effective enforcement and security at the borders, and we have to include a pathway to earned citizenship.”

From Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Oakland:

“Tonight the President made a powerful case for Congress to finally act to create jobs and grow our economy. Part of this effort must be lifting millions out of poverty and into the middle class. Erasing the scourge of poverty in our nation is an economic and moral imperative.

“As co-founder and co-chair of the Out-of-Poverty Caucus, I will continue to push for a national strategy to eliminate poverty, starting with the goal of cutting poverty in half in ten years. The President’s support for raising the minimum wage and tying it to the cost of living, as well as universal, high-quality, pre-Kindergarten education are critical pieces in that plan.

“Tonight the President made a big announcement about ending the war in Afghanistan. I have been working towards bringing all of our troops home right away, but the President’s plan to bring 34,000 troops home this year is an important step towards complete withdrawal. I know that there is no military solution in Afghanistan, and this announcement underscores the President’s commitment to an accelerated withdrawal and ending the war at the end of 2014.
“We must reject the calls for thousands of troops to stay on the ground in perpetuity. If there is any residual force beyond 2014, they must be extremely limited in scope and scale.

“Finally, now is the time for action, and we must join President’s call for an AIDS-free generation, gun violence prevention, comprehensive immigration reform, aggressive action on climate change, strengthening education, and getting America back to work.”

Not from the Bay Area, but for balance – from House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio:

“Four years after the president first addressed a joint session of Congress, Americans are still asking, ‘where are the jobs?’ Tonight, he offered them little more than more of the same ‘stimulus’ policies that have failed to fix our economy and put Americans back to work. We cannot grow the middle class and foster job creation by growing government and raising taxes. Washington has a spending problem that threatens the prosperity of every child, every family, and every small business in America. The president had an opportunity to offer a solution tonight, and he let it slip by. We are only weeks away from the devastating consequences of the president’s sequester, and he failed to offer the cuts needed to replace it. In the last election, voters chose divided government which offers a mandate only to work together to find common ground. The president, instead, appears to have chosen a go-it-alone approach to pursue his liberal agenda.

“Senator Rubio rose to the occasion tonight and presented a positive alternative to the American middle class. His vision for growth, opportunity, and prosperity is rooted in the understanding that it is our people, not our government, that continues to give us confidence in America’s future.”

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

“Our No. 1 priority must be keeping our economy growing, and President Obama laid out a bold roadmap for doing just that. He made absolutely clear that we can’t afford to lose 1 million jobs, which is exactly what would happen if we allow the sequester’s devastating automatic spending cuts to go into effect next month.

“We should also heed the President’s call to invest in a job-creating infrastructure plan, raise the minimum wage, and train our workers for new manufacturing and clean energy jobs. He made an eloquent case for fixing our nation’s broken immigration system, reducing gun violence and ensuring that no American voter is forced to wait in line for hours to cast a ballot. And I agree with President Obama that Congress should give every responsible homeowner in America the chance to save $3,000 a year by refinancing at today’s low rates by passing my bill.

“The President is right – we must do more to combat climate change, and Superstorm Sandy was a wake-up call. It is happening before our eyes, the science is clear, and we must act before it is too late. I am committed to working with my colleagues on a comprehensive solution, and I strongly support the President’s efforts to move forward with executive actions to address this serious threat.”

From Rep. Jackie Speier, D-San Mateo:

“The American people heard a true leader tonight speak in terms people understand about issues people really care about. President Obama reminded all Americans who we are as a country and he reminded me who I fight for in Congress.

“I join with the President in fighting to give American a living wage, bringing our men and women home from the Afghan war, voting on common sense gun crime laws, reshoring our jobs from overseas, investing in clean energy technology and innovation, supporting research and development, and embracing the immigrants who live in our neighborhoods with a pathway to citizenship.

“The President made it clear that if Congress fails to do its job, the President will act by executive action.”

Josh Richman

Josh Richman covers state and national politics for the Bay Area News Group. A New York City native, he earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri and reported for the Express-Times of Easton, Pa. for five years before coming to the Oakland Tribune and ANG Newspapers in 1997. He is a frequent guest on KQED Channel 9’s “This Week in Northern California;” a proud father; an Eagle Scout; a somewhat skilled player of low-stakes poker; a rather good cook; a firm believer in the use of semicolons; and an unabashed political junkie who will never, EVER seek elected office.

  • Elwood

    Isn’t it nice that the Bay Area congressional delegation contains no annoying Republicans who might sing off key?

  • JohnW

    Well, there used to be three: Tom Campbell, Bill Baker and Richard Pombo. The first was too “liberal” for the modern GOP. As for the other two, you can’t win elections in the more moderate parts of the Bay Area if you act like you’re from Alabama.

    There’s a very sharp attorney who is chair of the San Francisco Republican Party, Hameet Dhillon. Talk about a tough job! But the state GOP won’t allow her into leadership, because doesn’t pass the ideological purity test. GOP needs a bigger tent.

  • RR Senile Columnist

    BarLee is proud to be a founding member of the Caucus of the Month Club and America’s leading bleeding heart of all causes. She is in the forefront of those enlightened souls who will work hard to conquer war, AIDS, poverty, climate change, unemployment, underperforming schools, gun violence, common viruses, computer viruses, obesity, bad skin, scalp disorders, speech defects, chronic backache, indigestion, etc.

  • JAFO

    I can’t remember ever hearing a remarkable SOTU speech or recall one memorable line, regardless of which talking head had the task. They can all best be described as pandering wish lists designed primarily to check all the boxes. They’re long on rhetoric, devoid of details and they’re regularly punctuated by rosy platitudes, tiresome applause and predictable introductions of invited guests being used solely as props for the evening. The only way in which tonight’s effort differed from all the others I’ve seen over the years is that it was the same tired approach, but this time on steroids. There was just a lot more of everything.

  • Elwood

    This is Obama’s fifth SOTU and the fifth one in which the emphasis was on “jobs, jobs, jobs”.

    That ain’t workin’ out very well for him is it?

  • Bbox231

    Oh I dunno. Its at least working well enough to have sent the alternative packing last November.

  • Publius


    “I join with the President in fighting to give Americans a living wage,”

    If it is as simple as mandating what someone’s labor is worth. Let’s raise the minimum wage to $20 per hour and infinitely increase the size of the middle class.

  • JohnW

    Average hourly wage from 1963 to 2013 increased from $2.31 to $19.33. The federal minimum wage in 1963 was $1.25. Had it kept pace with the average hourly wage, the minimum wage today would be $10.45.

  • Publius

    “Had it kept pace with the average hourly wage, the minimum wage today would be $10.45.”

    So what’s the point? The artificial minimum wage should be raised to keep pace with real wages? Should adjust automatically then?

    Why not raise the minimum to $19.33?

    What about setting a maximum wage?

    The minimum wage increases unemployment amongst the unskilled laborers and youth workers. The government does not have enough resources to measure and place a value on all different jobs in the labor market. Rather than mandating a one size fits all minimum wage the government should abandon it’s futile (and in some cases counter productive) attempts to fix wages.

  • Elwood

    DHS Purchases 21.6 Million More Rounds of Ammunition

    Federal agency has now acquired enough bullets to wage 30 year war

    Last September, the DHS purchased no less than 7,000 fully automatic assault rifles, labeling them “Personal Defense Weapons.”

    A study funded by the Department of Homeland Security that was leaked last year characterizes Americans who are “suspicious of centralized federal authority,” and “reverent of individual liberty” as “extreme right-wing” terrorists.


  • JohnW

    Re: #9

    I was just making a statement of fact.

    I can argue either way on minimum wage, whether at the city, state or federal level. No economist or pundit can really prove to what degree it helps or hurts. However, if you believe in the concept (which you clearly don’t), it makes sense to maintain the minimum wage’s relationship to average hourly wage at a fixed ratio.

    Personally, if market mechanisms have pegged the average hourly rate at $19.33, a floor that is less than half the average amount does not seem to me to be unreasonable or bad economics.

  • JohnW

    Re: #10 Elwood

    It’s a contract to purchase ammo over a 5 year period of time. DHS includes the Coast Guard, Secret Service, ICE, TSA and the National Law Enforcement Training Center in Georgia and several other locations. They train 70,000 federal, state and local law enforcement people per year, with the shooting range as a big component.

    Comparisons like “30 years of war” are a bit specious, since small arms fire is only one component of weapons in war. And the nature of shooting range training is that people are continuously using high volumes of ammo. I wonder how much ammo per trainee the Army and Marines use every year for advanced infantry training. That might be a more meaningful comparison. How much ammo per year does a civilian use if he or she goes to the shooting range once per week?

  • Elwood

    @ John W #12

    John the 21.6 million rounds are in addition to 1.6 billion purchased in the last 10 months.

    That’s a lot of time on the firing range. I can still hear the range officer droning “One round ball ammunition lock and load.”

    Some gun stores are complaining of a shortage of ammo. The conspiracy theorist in me wonders if this could be a government plot to deprive the civilian population of ammo.

  • JohnW

    Point taken on the 21.6 million. I think this whole thing must be to get ready for when Texas secedes.

    I’ve seen the theory about buying up all the ammo. That would defy the laws of supply and demand that we all learned in Econ. 101. Somebody buying up all the supply just leads to more being produced and more profits for the manufacturers and retailers. The gun store shelves empty, and their prices go up anytime Obama burps. In fact, Obama may actually be a double agent, working as a secret Chief Marketing Officer for the gun and ammo industry.

    By the way, check out the link below. It says our forces in Afghanistan were using small arms bullets at the rate of 1.8 billion per year in 2011. So, the business about enough bullets for a 30 year war appears to be slightly off, unless we’re talking about muskets in the 18th and 19th century.


  • Elwood

    “troops use 250,000 for every rebel killed”

    Holy Crap, those rebels must be bullet proof.

    Or we have some incredibly bad shots fighting for us.

  • bbox231

    #14 – Nowhere does the referenced article state “.. forces in Afghanistan were using small arms bullets at the rate of 1.8 billion per year in 2011.”

    In fact, note the very slight disclaimer – – “..as well as changes in miltary doctrine -” – – which seems to allude to other factors contributing to the increased rate of consumption – in addition to the fight in Iraq and/or Afghanistan.

    Interestingly, here’s another report on, what appears to be the very same demographic which states – “The military’s annual need increased from 733 million small arms rounds (.50 caliber or less) in 2000 to 1,790 million rounds in 2005, but training requirements were greatly increased….”

    Note the greater specificity as to the factors contributing to increased demand which are stated as “training requirements” – which is, perhaps, the “change in doctrine” alluded to in the Belfast article.


    From this, I’m concluding that the 1.8B number is a total annual consumption by US armed forces – NOT, just those fired in battle.

    The math on the 30-year consumption still stands, and it seems like we’d still come up short – – however, dividing rounds expended for ALL reasons by the number of rebels killed is sensationalistic and a poor indicator of the marksmanship of our men and women in uniform.

    #15 – Disclaimer – As he is our self-appointed jester, I know Elwood is simply using, in part, our men and woman in uniform as the butt of his unique brand of sarcasm.

  • Elwood

    @ 16

    Humor is lost on the self-important.

  • bbox231

    #17 – No, Elwood, let’s be clear – – – George Carlin was a funny guy as was Don Rickles, Bill Cosby, Robin Williams and Rodney Dangerfield – to name a few. What you attempt to pass off as “humor” or “sarcasm” is just a simple lack of respect.

    A concept, I’m confident, you will find difficult to grasp.

  • Elwood

    @ 18

    You’re right!

    I have no respect for self-important bloviating windbags.

  • Bbox231

    #19 – oh so now the men and women who fight on your behalf are ” …self important bloviating windbags? That WAS the subject matter of your not-so-funny-to-anyone-except-you “joke” in #15 wasnt it? Shheesh talk about diggin yourself deeper.

  • Bruce R. Peterson, Lafayette

    I’m glad Josh keeps these comments on. There was a man running the Lamorinda Patch who made all of the interesting comments go POOF! He banned me from commenting. Then he made the mistake of making comments from a high ranking Democrat go POOF! She called his boss. Then John D. Oconner of Moraga, went POOF!
    Keep up the good work Josh. Keep letting Woody The Sniper insult people. It’s much more entertaining than SOTU.

  • Elwood

    @ Bbox231 #20

    Either you lack minimal intelligence or you are being deliberately disingenuous.

    Want to know who’s a self important bloviating windbag?

    Take a look in the mirror.

    And, Bruce, some people just can’t get no respect!

  • Elwood

    Obama kills another business!


    Small business owners must pray: “Please God,don’t let him come to my business!”

  • JohnW

    Re: 23 Elwood

    Wow! Big news. Whoever heard of a restaurant going out of business?

    And here I thought the link was going to be another story about Obama’s neo-socialist policies killing small business. Just a tongue-in-cheek (I think) story about a DC burger joint and an Iowa eatery Obama once patronized going out of business. I don’t suppose any other politicians have been there.

    “Ray’s Hell Burger in DC.” Closed due to dispute with its Colonial Village Shopping Center landlord. I can see a connection. During the last campaign, Newt Gingrich told us that Obama’s Kenyan heritage caused him to have “anti-colonial” views — with the implication that having a pro-colonial view would somehow be a good thing. When the Colonial Village shopping center heard that, they probably decided to retaliate by jacking up the rent for the burger joint Obama previously visited.

  • Elwood

    It all makes perfect sense to me, John!

    But please, let’s try to keep this blog deeply serious!

  • Bbox231

    Just more sarcasm and jokin’. Nuthin serious whats wrong with all of you?

  • Bruce R. Peterson, Lafayette

    @ # 26. It’s boredom. Who wants to hear about the Pope, or who’s pregnant. When it warms up, I will pretend I’m Ronald Reagan & go cut wood.