Several elected officials around the St. Louis area have issued responses to President Obama's State of the Union address. Leaders from both Missouri and Illinois shared their thoughts. They vary widely in their impressions, and as one might expect, seem to fall along party lines.
Assistant Senate Majority Leader Dick Durbin (D-IL):
"Tonight the President gave an optimistic speech about opportunity for American families, an economy on the rise and leveled a call to action to ensure this is a year of progress for the middle class.
"From programs to grow the economy and create jobs like the launching of new manufacturing institutes and infrastructure investments to efforts to strengthen the middle class like raising the minimum wage, expanding the Earned Income Tax Credit along the lines of a bill introduced with Senator Brown, and making college more affordable, tonight's speech focused on creating more opportunities for American families.
"Improving opportunities for American families requires innovation and action and I plan to work with my colleagues to build on the work we've done in my Defense Appropriations Subcommittee to reverse the devastating cuts to federally funded research and development and grow these programs for years to come.
"Finally, tonight's speech challenged us in Congress to set aside the partisanship and gridlock that is preventing us from improving the lives millions of Americans. We must now rise to the occasion."
U.S. Congressman Wm. Lacy Clay (D) MO:
"Tonight, President Obama laid out a bold, optimistic agenda that challenged us to reward hard work, renew economic security for middle-class families and keep faith with our senior citizens.
"I strongly support the President's call to raise the minimum wage; pass comprehensive immigration reform; renew the Voting Rights Act; continue expanding access to affordable healthcare for all, and eliminate barriers to higher education that are keeping millions from achieving their dreams.
"He also laid out a clear path that would continue our nation's remarkable progress towards achieving energy independence and creating millions of new jobs in the emerging 21st Century green economy.
"I am hopeful that Congress can build on recent bipartisan agreements to move this progressive agenda forward to benefit all Americans."
U.S. Congresswoman Ann Wagner (R-MO):
"The people of the 2nd District are tired of the same old failed speeches and policies from President Obama. The Show-Me state wants to know, ‘where are the jobs!’ It's time the President started working with Congress and not around us.
"The President called for a ‘year of action.’ I don't know where the President and Senate Democrats have been for the last year, but House Republicans have taken action on solutions that will make your lives just a little better, a little easier to manage.
"In fact, the House has passed over 170 pieces of legislation in the last year that have been ignored by the United States Senate and the President. The House has passed solutions that will increase the size of your paychecks, increase upward mobility, restore your individual liberties and lower costs on everyday items that you depend on every day like groceries, gasoline and the cost of your health care. These common-sense solutions offer the American people a better future versus a failed present.
"It's time we turn the page and begin a new era focused on empowering the American people and not the government."
U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill (D) MO:
"We've made a lot of progress these past few years, creating millions of jobs and pulling our economy out of the ditch—but there are an awful lot of commonsense ideas still sitting on the table that could build on that success, if elected leaders stop kowtowing to the political extremes and start working toward compromise to get things done. Raising the minimum wage for working families, building innovative private-public partnerships to invest in our roads and bridges, making the tax code fairer, and fixing our broken immigration system aren't partisan initiatives. They're commonsense goals that we should all be ready to rally behind to strengthen America's middle class families."
U.S. Congressman John Shimkus (R) IL:
"These speeches are always more political than whoever the President is wants to make it seem. President Obama – in an election year – took a more liberal, activist tone. I happen to disagree with many of his ideas.
"Promises made in speeches are also not automatically the law of the land. However, President Obama wants to start using executive authority to take more actions without Congress’ involvement. This is an unprecedented challenge to Congress by a President.
"While the President talks about energy security, his EPA has taken several steps that will hinder what was becoming a growing coal industry. I'm afraid of what his pen or his EPA might do to other energy issues that benefit Illinois.
"The President talks about jobs, yet his Administration has taken more steps to stymie job growth than to create jobs. The House has sent hundreds of bills over to the Senate that would directly or indirectly help job creation.
"Finally, I want to say that the failures of Obamacare go beyond a website that doesn't work. Here in Illinois, we are prime examples of the fiasco of Obamacare – we have had thousands more people receive cancellation notices from insurance companies than we have signed up on the website."