MIAMI COUNTY — In President Barack Obama’s final State of the Union address, he described his seven years in office as a time of positive change.
“I believe in change because I believe in you, the American people. And that’s why I stand here, as confident as I have ever been, that the state of our Union is strong,” Obama said in an address that touched on issues like global warming and income inequality.
Local reactions to the president’s Tuesday night remarks have varied widely.
“I think he was absolutely spot on on where the country is at,” Democratic Party Chairman Dave Fisher said.
Obama used his final State of the Union address to highlight his administration’s achievements — touching on the economy, changing technology, national security, and campaign finance — instead of identifying specific policy proposals.
In doing so, he countered those who have challenged his economic and national security policies.
“All the talk of America’s economic decline is political hot air,” Obama said. At another point, the president said, “Anyone claiming that America’s economy is in decline is peddling fiction.”
State Senator Bill Beagle responded to the president’s address, saying that Obama hasn’t tackled the real issues that face the country.
“Instead of presenting a plan to try and fix the damage done during the first seven years of his presidency, Obama decided use his last State of the Union address to pat himself on his back for a job well done,” Beagle said.
Beagle added that, “If we are ever going to get America back on track, we must send conservative leaders to Washington who share our values, our priorities and our vision for the future.”
Fisher pointed out that Obama is finishing up the end of his last term and was unlikely to introduce many new initiatives at the end of his term.
“It was one of his better speeches,” Fisher said. “But if anyone was looking for a lot of substance, they should have known better.”
The president also acknowledged that the divisions between the parties have grown wider in his seven years in office.
“It’s one of the few regrets of my presidency — that the rancor and suspicion between the parties has gotten worse instead of better,” Obama said.
Fisher said he applauds the president for acknowledging that regret, but argued that Obama has had to deal with an uncooperative Congress for much of his tenure.
“We’re just as guilty as Democrats as Republicans are. Politics is even more divided than it was,” Fisher admitted. “Take the party affiliation out of it, as he said. We need to start pushing our elected officials.”
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