‘Lot to Celebrate’ or ‘More of the Same’ in Speech?

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – The state of the union is good or not-so-good, according to the men who represent the region in the U.S. Congress and reflect the partisan divide in sharp focus as they reacted to President Donald Trump’s first State of the Union address.

“There is a lot to celebrate,” said U.S. Rep. Bill Johnson, R-Ohio 6, in a statement distributed at the conclusion of President Donald Trump’s first State of the Union address.

“Tonight the American people heard the accomplishments of the last year for themselves — not through the filter of the mainstream media,” Johnson said.

On the other side of the aisle, his guest seat left vacant for Amer Othman, the Youngstown businessman deported Monday to Jordan, U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan, D-Ohio 13, called the president’s speech “more of the same. Although polished and read with a teleprompter, the rhetoric, fear mongering and falsehoods that President Trump so often leans on when facts elude him was as prevalent as ever,” he said.

President Trump called on the nation “to set aside our differences, to seek out common ground and to summon the unity we need to deliver for the people,” he said.

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He listed his administration’s accomplishments in its first year: “massive tax cuts” for American workers and businesses, the elimination of more regulations “in our first year than any administration in history” and “turn[ing] the page on decades of unfair trade deals.”

In a nod to the domestic automobile industry, he said, “I halted Government mandates that crippled America’s autoworkers — so we can get the Motor City revving its engines once again.”

Most significantly, the president proposed a $1.5 trillion plan to rebuild the nation’s infrastructure. “Every Federal dollar should be leveraged by partnering with State and local governments and, where appropriate, tapping into private sector investment — to permanently fix the infrastructure deficit,” he said.

And the president called for more spending for the military and a new immigration policy that would grant the so-called “dreamers” citizenship while also building a wall at the Mexico border and limiting family members from coming here.

Rep. Johnson was elusive in his praise of the speech.

“From unlocking American energy and ending the war on coal, to transforming the Department of Veterans Affairs, to eliminating job-killing regulations and enacting historical tax reform legislation, There is a lot to celebrate from President Trump’s first year in office,” he said.

“I was particularly pleased to hear the President’s infrastructure plans – and his desire to speed-up and streamline the permitting process, which is long overdue,” Johnson’s statement continued. “Nowhere are upgrades more needed than in parts of Eastern and Southeastern Ohio — roads, bridges, and sewers, but also a significant upgrade in rural broadband access. High-speed internet is no longer a luxury; rather, it is a necessity for everyday activities in today’s technology-driven global marketplace.”

In his statement, Ryan accused the president of lying to his voters.

“The president was carried into the White House in large part due to the promises he made to American workers – to fight for them every day so that their wages would rise, their pensions secured and their futures brighter. He lied to them. And he’s done nothing but work against them since day one,” he said.

Instead of expanding quality, affordable healthcare, Trump and Congressional Republicans’ first big push was to throw millions off of their insurance and cause premiums to skyrocket for millions more – including those with preexisting conditions,”  he said.

“I wish the president would realize that it’s game time. Hardworking people cannot afford to wait around while an erratic, reckless President fails to address their concerns over sending his latest mean-tweet.”

On the other side of the Ohio border, U.S. Rep. Mike Kelly, R-Pa. 3, headlined his prepared statement as “America is winning again!” and described the state of the union “truly as strong as Pittsburgh steel.”

Kelly agreed with Johnson that the president’s address “was a celebration of the state of our union, and rightly so. As President Trump made clear, by every measurement, the United States is racing full force in the right direction again. Our economy is roaring and American confidence is soaring. The stock market has reached an all-time high and unemployment is at a 17-year low. Thanks to the historic enactment of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, hundreds of billions of dollars are being brought back to our country and more than three million American workers are already receiving four-figure bonuses, pay raises, benefit increases, and more. Overseas, thanks to a bold new foreign policy and military strategy, the Islamic State’s deadly caliphate has been obliterated.”

Dueling statements from the chairmen of the Republican and Democratic parties in Mahoning County ran true to form.

Republican Mark Munroe called the president’s speech “presidential, in fact inspirational.”

Democrat David Betras noted there was no mention of Youngstown, unlike two of former President Obama’s State of the Union addresses.

“Guess he forgot that he promised to rebuild the steel mills,” Betras said.

U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, offered to work with the president to address critical issues for Ohio, including protecting pensions, addressing Chinese steel overcapacity, rebuilding infrastructure and tackling the addiction epidemic.

“While there are many areas where I disagree with President Trump, I am always willing to work for him when it’s right for Ohio. I hope Republicans and Democrats will follow tonight’s speech with action and come together to rebuild our infrastructure, tackle the opioid epidemic, crack down on trade cheats, and keep the President’s promises to American workers,” Brown said.

Brown also applauded Trump’s commitment to enforcing international trade laws and repeated his call for the President to take immediate action in the pending 232 trade case on steel imports. In addition, he called on Trump to “make good on his promise to rebuild American infrastructure” through “meaningful investments, not tolls and gimmicks.” 

READ full text of President Trump’s State of the Union.

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