Delegation responds to State of the Union

Feb. 14, 2013 @ 06:43 AM

As President Barack Obama began to tout parts of his State of the Union address in North Carolina Wednesday, members of Congress were quick to jab at initiatives proposed in the annual speech.

Obama opened a three-state tour in Asheville to start the selling process for programs surrounding energy use, the minimum wage, voting and programs for youth.

But, the looming issue Obama discussed was the financial situation of the federal government. Lawmakers are up against a new deadline for implementation of across-the-board spending cuts. Obama suggested Tuesday night that new taxes would be the answer to avoid a "fiscal cliff."

Lawmakers are facing a March 1 deadline for automatic spending cuts, or sequester, to begin. That will be followed by a swift reduction in government funds for various agencies on March 27.

Rep. Patrick McHenry, R-North Carolina, said that Obama's proposals do more to hurt businesses in the state.

"The last time he touted his economy in North Carolina, he visited Freightliner in Mount Holly," McHenry said. "Six months later, they announced over 1,000 layoffs. His barrage of tax hikes and new regulations is stifling economic growth, not encouraging it."

While fellow Republicans in Washington spent the morning after questioning Obama's speech, calling it "another retread of lip service and liberalism," — according to Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell from the Senate floor Wednesday — Sen. Kay Hagan, D-North Carolina, said that it was time to "get serious" about the nation's finances.

"Our growing debt is among our nation's most pressing problems," Hagan said. "We need a long-term plan to get our fiscal house in order that will responsibly reduce our deficit and give our business owners certainty so they can invest in creating jobs."

Obama also called for an increase in manufacturing as well as research and development as ways to increase that sector. Hagan said that manufacturing is a "key aspect" of economic and job growth in North Carolina.

"We've lost hundreds of thousands of manufacturing jobs in the last decade, and it's time we reversed that trend and focus on ways to bring good-paying manufacturing jobs back to North Carolina," Hagan said.

Obama's speech also called for immigration reform, gun control measures and a bill to cut greenhouse gas emissions.

While House Republicans have told the Associated Press there is little room for compromise on the Obama's proposals, Hagan said that bipartisanship is the only way to move forward.

"I will continue to work on a bipartisan basis on common sense solutions that will create jobs, protect our military personnel and bases, and reduce our deficits so that middle class families in North Carolina will have a brighter future," Hagan said.


The Associated Press contributed to this report