As one would expect, the members of the Ohio delegation in Washington responded to the president’s State Of the Union Address along party lines.
Sixth District U.S. Representative Bill Johnson (R-OH) did not mince words.
“Never in my lifetime have I seen a President seem so small and insignificant in the face of so many tremendous global challenges – challenges that require American leadership abroad, and the ability to unite at home,” Johnson said. “Tonight’s speech didn’t change any of that, and he continues to preside over the downsizing of the American dream – with a record number of Americans pessimistic about the future. I found it particularly stunning that this President, after seven years of dividing our country more deeply than we’ve been in generations, is now, in his final year, calling for civility.”
Johnson also commented on the current state of world security.
“Terrorism generally, and ISIS specifically, is on the march across the globe; we saw another reminder of this earlier today in Turkey,” Johnson said. “While ISIS gained strength and influence in the Middle East, President Obama sat on his hands – choosing to ignore his ‘red line’ in Syria and focus on his need to close the terrorist prison at Guantanamo Bay. Vladimir Putin continues to push President Obama around on the global stage, and longstanding allies, like Israel, are wondering where they stand with a White House that has chosen to cozy up with Iran.”
U.S. Representative Brad Wenstrup (R-OH) responded much the same way.
“Tonight, we heard from a President who is trying to project and protect his legacy of the last seven years,” Wenstrup said. “It’s a legacy of retreating American leadership around the world and a deteriorating American Dream here at home. Iran is holding U.S. sailors prisoner – a fact the President could not bring himself to address before the nation. The incomes of Ohio workers and families are flat. Americans don’t feel safer than they did seven years ago.”
It was quite a different response in the other chamber and from the other side of the aisle.
Earlier Tuesday, U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH) held a press conference call and outlined his priorities for 2016 – including expanding the Earned Income Tax Credit, which Brown helped make permanent in 2015.
Brown said President Obama echoed his priority in Tuesday night’s State of the Union Address.
“President Obama outlined a clear vision tonight for expanding American opportunity, and I’m ready to get to work building a future where anyone who’s willing to work hard and play by the rules can succeed,” Brown said. “We’ve come a long way in the last eight years – the auto industry is soaring back and our economy is growing. But we have more work ahead of us to make sure working families across Ohio, and across the country, are benefitting from that success. This year I will continue pushing forward to expand tax cuts that allow working people to keep more of their hard-earned money, fighting against trade deals that threaten American jobs, and finding ways we can work together to deliver results for Ohio.”
Brown also welcomed First Lady Michelle Obama’s special guest, Jim Obergefell – a Cincinnati resident and the plaintiff in the Supreme Court’s historic marriage equality decision.
Brown, a long-time supporter of marriage equality, applauded the selection.
In April, Brown met with Obergefell and in March, he joined 43 of his Senate colleagues and 167 members of the House of Representatives in filing an amicus brief in the Supreme Court stating that all couples deserve the right to marry no matter the state that they live in.
According to CNN, an aide to Rep. Jim Jordan revealed late Tuesday that the Ohio Republican’s office had extended an initially mysterious invitation to Rowan County, Kentucky County Clerk Kim Davis who was briefly jailed last September after she refused on religious grounds to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.
Davis, a born-again Christian, said her message was aimed at Christians “who want to stay and make a difference.” She told a reporter on Tuesday that she made the trip from Rowan County to Capitol Hill for President Obama’s State of the Union address to provide “encouragement” to “all Christians.”
Reach Frank Lewis at 740-353-3101, ext. 1928, or on Twitter @franklewis.