Colorado residents split on presidential address

DENVER—Reaction to President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address on Washington’s Capitol Hill drew mixed reaction Tuesday from Colorado’s Capitol hill.

While some heard a speech challenging Americans to build a prosperous future, others thought it was a repeat of past promises that didn’t seem to be in sync with what the nation’s voters want.

University of Colorado political science professor Kenneth Beckers said that while the president talked about creating jobs from renewable energy or “innovative” businesses, they seemed too far into the future.

“The speech seemed kind of oddly out of sync with the November election, where voters were sending a message more or less rejecting the Obama administration and the Democrats for the pattern of spending and large deficits,” Beckers said. “I expected something that was more of a move toward the center. It seemed kind of tone deaf to the concerns of Americans about the economy and the debt and fiscal policy.”

Colorado Republican Party Chairman Dick Wadhams said the speech was filled with contradictions.

He said Obama rejected his own deficit-reduction commission while calling for new investments, and called for a spending freeze that really just locks in spending increases.

But that’s not what Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper heard Obama say.

The Democratic governor said the president’s call to support innovation and education were right on target.

“The president sounded themes that should resonate with Coloradans no matter what their political affiliation may be, including a call to make government more efficient, cutting red tape and unleashing the country’s entrepreneurial spirit,” Hickenlooper said. “This kind of change isn’t Democrat or Republican. It’s change sparked by all communities coming together.”

Sen. Gail Schwartz, D-Snowmass Village, said the president’s call for an 80 percent renewable-energy standard by 2035, investments into the nation’s infrastructure and emphasizing education weren’t just about creating jobs now, but having sustainable jobs for the future.

Schwartz said the president emphasized some things Democrats want to see, and she disagreed with critics who said he didn’t reach out to the Republicans. Obama’s call for immigration reform, offering to make changes to last year’s controversial health care law and revamping the nation’s tax code are things Republicans have long wanted, she said.

“There was a balance of challenge and optimism and commitment, and I heard what he said about making the country more competitive,” she said. “He also provided the other side of the aisle with considerable recognition that we don’t always get it right, so let’s work together to solve our problems.”


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