Black leaders react to President Obama's third State of the Union speech

theGRIO REPORT - Black leaders react to the president's third State of the Union speech...

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Reactions are pouring in to President Barack Obama’s third State of the Union Speech, with black leaders from both parties weighing in.

NAACP President Ben Jealous tells theGrio:

“I thought the president hit it out of the park tonight. I thought he spoke the common sense that Main Street wants to hear, that we need to stop incentivizing companies to send jobs overseas, and bring jobs home. We have to stop forcing secretaries to pay higher taxes than their billionaire boses, and tell colleges, ‘you have to be committed to keeping education affordable rather than excluding those who can’t afford to go to college. I thought his appeal to patriotism, to stop the obstructionism and get down to work and get things done was right on time. And the clarity that if there’s a job opening in America, we should make sure that an American is prepared to fill it is the kind of common sense that Main Street has been craving to hear. So I think it was right on point.”

Congressional Black Caucus Chairman Emanuel Cleaver (statement released by CBC):

“I agree with President Barack Obama. We stand at a critical moment in American history. We can choose to uplift a small segment of our population or we can work together to improve the lives of all Americans. As our nation’s economy slowly rebounds, the African American community experiences disproportionately higher rates of unemployment, home foreclosure, educational and healthcare disparities, as well as economic hardship. As a result, vulnerable communities increasingly rely on public programs to meet their basic needs, but these are the very same programs the Republican Leadership has continued to attack. I along with President Obama believe that we all deserve a fair chance, access to jobs, good education, fair taxes and an opportunity to achieve the American dream, but every American does not have access to these kinds of opportunities.

“Recklessly eliminating vital programs like job training, education, and health care for millions of hardworking American families is not a roadmap to getting our economy back on track. It is a road map to permanently damaging the future well-being of our great nation. Tonight, President Obama laid out a clear blueprint to continue rebuilding our economy through American manufacturing, American energy, skills for American workers, and a renewal of American values that will strengthen our nation’s fragile economy, not just for our children’s children, but for generations to come. I commend the president for recognizing the millions of Americans who work hard and play by the rules everyday and for further recognizing that they deserve a government and economy that do the same. It is high time that we all pay our fair. It is also time that we stop with the obsessive compulsive worry that another American is trying to take what we have earned. We are in this together and if we, as a country, do not realize that fact very soon we are headed for a rude awakening.

Mark Morial, president, National Urban League (statement):

“The President’s vision for a nation where everyone gets a fair shot, everyone does their fair share, and everyone plays by the same rules is possible only students are prepared to meet the challenges of the 21st Century economy. That means a robust Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) curriculum in every classroom. It means redesigned funding formulas to balance the level of investment among states, districts and schools. It means raising the urgency of employment and education reform to the top of our national news headlines.”

GOP Rep. Tim Scott (R-SC), member of the House leadership (via WCBD Charleston):

“Tonight the president talked about rebuilding an economy where hard work pays off and responsibility is rewarded, which is something we can all agree on. Last year his State of the Union address talked about reducing government regulations and lowering corporate tax rates — two great ways to achieve that goal. I have introduced legislation, the Rising Tides Act, to lower the corporate tax rate to 23 percent, and my colleagues and I in the House have passed multiple bills protecting American jobs from overreaching regulations.

The president gave an incredibly similar speech this year. Unfortunately, rhetoric only lasts so long without action. Twenty-seven bi-partisan House bills wait in the Senate collecting dust. The Keystone Pipeline, which creates up to 20,000 manufacturing and construction jobs, now sits in limbo after the President refused to approve it. And tonight he proposed even more new government programs and more new taxes, as if growing government is the answer to our ills.

America is about lifting every single one of us up, creating equal opportunities for success for everyone. Big government simply cannot accomplish this. Government’s goal shouldn’t be to bring everyone to the middle; it should be to get out of the way so that everyone can achieve success.”