Local members of Congress who sit on opposite sides of the political aisle found areas of agreement in address Tuesday, but their initial reaction was very different.
heard a strong vision for the country from the President, while thought Obama was offering campaign themes in his speech. “It was more of a political speech than a State of the Union,” Dold said.
Schakowsky, who has been a strong supporter of the President since he first ran for the U.S. Senate in 2004, heard a leader with a plan for progress who will act by executive order if necessary.
“The President laid out a vision for real progress for working with the Republicans,” Schakowsky said. “If they obstruct what needs to be done he indicated he will act alone (with executive orders).”
Changes Proposed to Tax Code
One of the major ingredients of the President’s proposals is revising the tax laws so billionaires like Warren Buffett will not pay a lower percentage of income in taxes than a secretary.
“Tax reform should follow the Buffett rule: If you make more than $1 million a year, you should not pay less than 30 percent in taxes,” Obama said in the speech. “If you make under $250,000 a year, like 98 percent of American families, your taxes shouldn’t go up.”
Schakowsky, , applauded the President’s idea. “It’s clear we’re going to have to address the unfairness in the tax code," she said. “Each of us has to play by the same rules.”
Dold wanted more information on the President’s ideas on changes to the tax laws before forming an opinion. “Everything is on the table,” Dold said. “But I have to know what he means. What income is he taxing at 30 percent?”
Schakowsky and Dold liked what they heard about public-private partnerships to prepare people for jobs. The President described cooperation between Siemens and a community college in North Carolina. Schakowsky and Dold both cited local examples.
“Oakton Community College has been developing important programs with nanotechnology,” Schakowsky said. “They are doing a good job of preparing people for 21st century jobs.”
Dold has been praising the efforts of Wheeling High School and other local institutions to promote STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) education for nearly a year. He believes it brings more jobs to the area.
“I was pleased to hear him talk about STEM education. We need more local opportunities for education now in Lake County,” Dold said. “We have opportunities for jobs here that won’t be pulled to Ohio or Iowa,” he added, referring to efforts between a business in Waukegan and the College of Lake County.
President Calls for Smart Regulation
Though Schakowsky and Dold may agree on the need for appropriate regulation, they received different messages when the President discussed the subject.
“We need smart regulations to prevent irresponsible behavior,” the President said in the speech. “Rules to prevent financial fraud, or toxic dumping, or faulty medical devices, don’t destroy the free market. They make the free market work better.”
Dold liked what he heard on the subject and said he would work with members of both parties for smart regulation. “The first bill I introduced was about dumping,” he said.
Schakowsky credits the President with wiping out unnecessary regulations, but criticized Republican efforts to eliminate requirements that she believes harm the environment.
“He has already done that, 500 rules have been removed” Schakowsky said. “The House has passed bills that get rid of EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) regulations that keep our water clean and our food safe,” she added referring to action she considers harmful by the Republican majority.