Capito, McKinley Unimpressed with Obama’s Final State of the Union Speech

CLARKSBURG — As two members of West Virginia’s congressional delegation see it, Macbeth’s description of life would sum up President Obama’s final State of the Union speech: “Full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.”

U.S. Sen. Shelley Moore Capito and U.S. Rep. David McKinley said Obama’s speech Tuesday night offered little in terms of helping West Virginians affected by his administration’s war on coal or protecting Americans from terrorist groups such as the Islamic State.

“I had hoped he would lay out a plan to improve the bleak economic outlook in West Virginia and other states,” Capito, R-W.Va., said.

“Instead, he focused on policies that will continue to harm West Virginia’s economy and limit our energy production and gave little assurances that he plans to eliminate ISIS,” Capito said.

ISIS is one of the acronyms for Islamic State.

In his speech, Obama downplayed the threat posed by the jihadist group that carried out attacks in Paris and inspired a mass shooting in San Bernardino, California.

Obama also used the speech to burnish his legacy as the president who helped lead the economy back from the brink of depression, reformed the nation’s health care and addressed climate change.

While sticking to his guns on promoting cleaner energy sources, the president did toss an olive branch to coal-burning states in the form of training out-of-work miners for jobs in renewable energy.

McKinley, R-W.Va., said Obama’s assessment of his presidency may not be shared by Americans sitting around their kitchen tables and asking such questions as “Are they better than they were seven years ago?” and “Is the world safer today?”

As to the first question, West Virginians would say no, McKinley said.

“While some people may be doing well, many more are struggling and frustrated,” McKinley said. “Ask the families of the thousands of coal miners out of work due to the war on coal.

“Ask the single mom whose hours have been cut back because of Obamacare and is now working a second job,” the 1st District congressman added.

As to how safe the world is, Obama took office promising to reshape other nations’ view of America, McKinley said.

Seven years later, Iraq and Afghanistan are still in the headlines, joined by ISIS terrorizing parts of Syria and Iraq, and North Korea and Iran pursuing nuclear weapons, McKinley said.

“America’s foreign policy is a disaster,” he said. “Americans deserve better than a victory lap. They deserve a leader who can restore confidence.”

Capito said she was glad to hear the president addressing the drug epidemic affecting West Virginia and other parts of the nation.

“Republicans and Democrats can and should look for solutions to end addiction, improve access to treatment and stem this mounting health concern,” Capito said.

Capito said she hopes Obama “will commit to moving beyond his failed policies of the past and focus on those that have the support of Congress and the American people.”

“Doing so will get our country on the right path and fulfill the president’s goal of changing the way things are done in Washington,” she added.

McKinley echoed those sentiments.

“This year, Congress will take steps to restore the American dream by charting a path toward economic opportunity and national security,” McKinley said.

“We should never lose sight of the fundamentals that helped America become the greatest nation on the earth — a healthy, vibrant economy, strong national defense and a smaller, efficient government,” McKinley said.

Robert Rupp, a political scientist at West Virginia Wesleyan College, said a president’s final State of the Union is more an appeal to history than to voters.

Most presidents’ reputations are cemented in their first three years in office, Rupp said.

For instance, John F. Kennedy still ranks among the country’s top three presidents, despite information about his personal life that came out after his death, Rupp said.

“Obama will go down in history for the Affordable Care Act, his most major legislation in terms of health reform, and in terms of pulling us out of the Great Recession,” Rupp said.

“The irony is that during his last year in office, while we’re technically out of the Great Recession, many Americans don’t feel they are, and there’s still widespread criticism of Obama’s health care plan,” Rupp added.

By:  Jim Davis
Source: The Exponent Telegram