President Barack Obama spoke a little over an hour to the 112th Congress, Tuesday night, a divided Congress that nonetheless took pains to overcome that image... sitting next to one another.


President Barack Obama spoke a little over an hour to the 112th Congress, Tuesday night, a divided Congress that nonetheless took pains to overcome that image... sitting next to one another.
Decked with lapel ribbons in support of  wounded colleague Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, the show of conciliation left out much of the partisan applause and yelling common to typical State of the Union addresses.
In this atmosphere, the Democratic president sought cooperation for goals to restore the Nation in terms of education and job opportunity, funding of green and clean advancement in technology and protection from foreign enemies.
The reaction from several people in the local region varied.
Peg Murphy, long-time advocate of the Democratic Party and Hawley resident, was glad to see the bi-partisanship. “I think he tried a hard as he could to do the best for everyone,” she said. “They have to work together,” speaking of the two parties. “It was nice having them sitting together -there no one yelling out.”
“I like what the President said- we have to work hard for those who need it.” Murphy said it seems strange that those are the wealthiest get the most tax breaks.
Frank Golden, chairman of the Wayne County Republican Committee, said he chose NOT to watch the State of the Union Address, out of his disdain for President Obama.  “He’s done enough to destroy America,” he said, and would be working hard to back a Christian fiscally conservative candidate at the next presidential election.
He also thought little of the legislators of both parties sitting next to each other. “It’s all right to live in a room with a snake as long as you know it’s a snake. They are two completely different philosophies.”
Martin Katz, who lives near Hawley, spoke highly of the speech, putting it at an “eight” on a scale of “one to 10.”  He said Obama covered most of the important subjects. “If  followed through, we’d be in much better shape than we are now,” Katz opined. “We have to spend money now to jump start -  renewable energy, cleaning up the environment,” he said.
On the other hand, Obama was a bit vague on a lot of areas, Katz Stated.  
Katz, whose wife Toni chairs the Pike County Democratic Committee,  said it was helpful that the Republican and Democratic Congress members sat together. “We need to find common ground,” he said.
Valerie Cocchi is chairperson of the Pike County Council of Republican Women. Based on excerpts she heard from the speech, she expressed concern that Obama can cut spending and still put people back to work. Cuts to programs will only lose more jobs.
“We the people need to tell our government to cut down on our bureaucracy, special treatment of government workers, elected officials, pensions, medical coverage should be the same as the rest of the people,” said Cocchi. “There is where true equality is to be found. He failed to mention any of this.  He asked for the parties to come together and work for all of us. This statement if all politics were eliminated could and should work.  May God Bless America.”
Chris Decker, chairman, Pike County Republican Committee, said Obama was a great speaker but needs to “check his facts.”  While Obama said he would not sign bills with earmarks, the credit should go to Speaker of the House John Boehner. Decker added that the address sounded more like Obama’s first speech for re-election in 2012.
Skip Mendler, Wayne County Green Party Chairman, was glad to hear Obama’s commitment to “clean energy” but disappointed that this still includes fossil fuel and nuclear. Conservatives have rejected the "cap-and-trade" approach to handling carbon emissions and addressing climate change - which is ironic, Mendler states, since this was touted as a "market-based" solution that would appeal precisely to conservative sensibilities - so Obama should be pushing for more direct and effective measures, such as carbon taxes.
Mendler suggests that the healthcare debate should be renewed and push for a single-payer "Medicare for All" and reject the for-profit system. On economics, he said that Obama should shy away from more military excesses, financial bailouts, tax breaks for the wealthiest and reducing governmnet services, and instead emphasize a “robust Green New Deal.”
He did like the call to end oil company subsidies and the reminder that Muslim Americans  are indeed "part of the American family."
Regarding State of the Union seating arrangements, Mendler added a  quote from Carl Romanelli, Green Party’s 2006 Senatorial candidate:  "There's a lot of talk about Democrats and Republicans 'reaching across the aisle' during the State of the Union.  What about the gap between Washington and the rest of the country, much wider than the aisle between the two Titanic parties?"