by Brandon Wilson and Katy Ruth Camp
January 28, 2010 01:00
COBB COUNTY – Georgia’s senators and U.S. representatives from Cobb, as well as residents throughout the county, agreed that the president needed to focus on jobs and the economy in his State of the Union address. Although President Barack Obama spoke considerably on those issues, Republicans remained skeptical – and highly critical – while local Democrats clung to his plan for the future.
“I know from traveling Georgia there is one major issue on people’s minds: jobs and the economy,” U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-east Cobb) said. “It’s essential that the president start to handle it in a meaningful way. It’s obvious the stimulus didn’t help with the unemployment situation. We have a very uncertain marketplace right now. We need to bring clarity and opportunity for the private sector to make those investments that are necessary to bring back our economy.”
Saxby Chambliss (R-Moultrie) mirrored those comments, stating, “I am pleased to hear the president say he is going to do whatever is necessary to help create jobs and reinvigorate the economy. It’s pretty obvious the stimulus package did not help reduce unemployment, so we need to go in another direction. And it is imperative that we work in a bipartisan manner to do so.”
U.S. Reps. Phil Gingrey (R-Marietta) and Tom Price (R-Roswell) had much harsher words for Obama.
“In tonight’s speech, the President spoke – once again – about his desire to create jobs, control spending, and work with Republicans,” Gingrey said. “All three of these things are noble goals – unfortunately, to this point, these promises have proved nothing but empty rhetoric.”
Price said: ” Tonight, President Obama declared that he will not allow the wishes of the American people to get in the way of his big-government agenda. … The president may talk about the need for more jobs, but they won’t arrive until he recognizes that it is his agenda that is preventing job creation. The president’s stubborn insistence on a government takeover of health care, costly energy legislation and greater intervention into the financial markets are scaring away investment and providing uncertainty to small business owners.”
U.S. Rep. David Scott, a Democrat from Smyrna, was pleased to see the president focus on the economy and jobs, and was optimistic about the direction he presented the country move toward.
“If Americans don’t have a job, a home or security, then everything else is unimportant,” he said. “We need to simplify healthcare reform and tie it to economic recovery. Right now, if you lose your job, you lose your healthcare and are one step from a medical bankruptcy. It’s that simple.
“President Obama rightly focused on job creation and the economy. The people expect congress to work together to solve these problems and I believe the President laid out a good direction to that end. He pointed out that there is too much at stake to run for cover or just merely oppose ideas for political reasons.”
David Lombrozo, of Marietta, a member of the East Cobb Democratic Alliance said he “thought it was a phenomenal address.”
“I hope he is able to carry out everything that he addressed,” he said, adding that Obama spent the majority of the time “chastising the Republican Party, so I hope that they listened.”
Meanwhile, at a watch party at the Atlanta Marriott Northwest in Marietta hosted by Americans for Prosperity, Joel Aaron, of Mableton, coordinator for the conservative group, said: “I think he drove a further stake politically for a lot of folks from the conservative side of the spectrum.”
Aaron did say, however, that the President’s acknowledgement of the efforts by the U.S. military troops was praise-worthy.
“It was a very warm gesture that he gave the troops the respect they deserve. He put them front and center.”
Ruth E Levy, co-vice president of the liberal group Cobb Democratic Women, said she felt the president’s urge for unity was what the country needed to hear.
“The big message that was made is that we’re making progress, but both parties need to work together to make things happen,” Levy said. “But for one side to veto making progress, as the Republicans have done, that’s not going to get us anywhere. We want more jobs and those sorts of things, but nothing is going to happen unless we come together to make solutions and work with more unity, which the president was clear in saying was needed.”
Maria Sheffield of Mableton also attended the AFP watch party and said she believes the president is finally starting to observe some Republican ideals.
“We’ve heard a lot of talk, and we’ve had a year. A lot of the things we heard during the campaign, they’ve not come to be. Now, I think he’s seeing the writing on the wall, and he’s picking up now and talking about some Republican ideas that have been out there for a while, but we’ll have to see if he’s actually going to put those things into place,” Sheffield said.
Back on the issue of jobs, Jason Shepherd and Mark Lane, both of Marietta and attendees of the AFP watch party, said they feel that is the country’s most pressing issue right now.
“Basically, the president has been completely AWOL on this issue,” Shepherd said. “He likes to make a great talk about how he’s going to refocus his government on creation of jobs. We need sustainability. This president has been chasing around his very liberal base, while unemployment numbers across the state of Georgia have hit the double digits for the first time in 20 years. That’s the main issue. People don’t see an end in sight.”