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Obama gets positive reaction for aggressive stance

Cyril Josh Barker | 1/31/2014, 11:14 a.m.
President Barack Obama’s most vocal State of the Union address since he took office, reaction to his plans to move ...
Congresswoman Yvette Clarke and Rudy Crew at an Obama event in Brooklyn. Photo by Nayaba Arinde

On the heels of what is considered President Barack Obama’s most vocal State of the Union address since he took office, reaction to his plans to move forward with or without Congress is getting much praise. Several local congressional members weighed in on the president’s speech, stating they are onboard with his plans.

“I fully support the priorities outlined by President Obama during his State of the Union address. Congress should be working with the president to grow our economy, put Americans back to work and ensure the security of our country for generations to come,” said Rep. Gregory Meeks. “Rather than support these objectives, congressional Republicans have done everything in their power—from attempting 49 times to repeal the Affordable Care Act to shutting down the government—in order to distract the American public from supporting the president’s agenda.”

Likewise, Rep. Yvette D. Clarke commended Obama’s State of the Union address for its proposals on income inequality and comprehensive immigration reform, as well as Obama’s promise to sign an executive order to increase the minimum wage for those people working under federal contracts from the current $7.25 to $10.10.

“Despite recent gains in our economy, millions of Americans have effectively been excluded from the job market or have been working for wages and benefits that are inadequate to raise a family,” said Clarke. “As a nation, we have the ability to choose a new direction—to develop the talents of our workers, to stimulate the economy and to insist on a living wage for every worker in the United States.”

Speaking on Congress, Rep. Hakeem Jeffries said Obama’s speech urges the governing body to unify for the American people and leave behind last year’s disorganization, which included a government shutdown.

“The dysfunction that characterized Congress in 2013 must yield to a year of legislative action on behalf of the American people,” he said. “President Obama made clear that he is prepared to move forward in order to expand economic opportunity for working-class families and the middle class. It is time for Congress to step up and do its part for the good of the country.”

Democratic National Committee Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz said Obama’s speech put forth a Democratic vision for a United States that is defined by opportunity, action and optimism.

“Tonight, the president reaffirmed his belief that if you work hard and play by the rules, you should have the opportunity to succeed. That’s a belief that Democrats and the vast majority of Americans stand by, and it’s time for Republicans in Congress to end the gridlock and join with the president to get the economy working to help more Americans reach the middle class,” she said.

NAACP Interim President Lorraine C. Miller said Obama put himself in the shoes of all Americans, addressing many issues the average citizen faces.

“From raising the minimum wage to job training, the president brought the issue of economic inequality front and center and offered practical solutions to close the gap,” she said. “President Obama has embraced the social justice movement that is moving across this nation and has boldly called on all Americans to do the same. The NAACP will heed his call and continue to be leaders in the effort to end the inequalities that have plagued our nation for centuries.”

National Urban League President and CEO Marc Morial said he was encouraged to hear the president articulate a vision—and practical proposals—that speaks to the hopes and aspirations of all Americans.

“In clear and unambiguous terms, President Obama expressed the critical point that the Urban League has long championed—that empowerment and prosperity begin with full employment and economic opportunity and equality,” said Morial. “The president offered a roadmap that supports those still striving for the dignity of employment at a living wage; invests in high-quality education for every child that prepares them for colleges and careers; and offers peace of mind and security for those with current or future health care challenges.”