Isle lawmakers praise Obama speech
By JOHN YAUKEY
Advertiser Washington Bureau
WASHINGTON — Hawai'i lawmakers praised President Obama's emphasis on job creation last night during his first State of the Union speech.
In his address in the House chamber at the U.S. Capitol, Obama acknowledged the nation's economic pain and called for a $30 billion small-business jobs bill that would include tax cuts for companies that hire new workers or raise wages.
"His plan deserves the support of Congress," said Sen. Daniel Inouye, D-Hawai'i. "I thought it was very sound. This is the shot in the arm we needed."
With 6.9 percent unemployment, Hawai'i has been spared some of the double-digit jobless numbers that have plagued such states as Michigan, where unemployment is at 14.6 percent, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Still, Hawai'i's job market remains stagnant at best, and the state faces crippling budget deficits, largely because of a weak tax base.
Sen. Daniel Akaka, D-Hawai'i, agreed that job creation was a top priority, especially through small business.
"I agree with President Obama that we must create private sector jobs through investments in small businesses, clean renewable energy, and road and rail projects, because better jobs mean more security for working families," he said. "I share the president's commitment to reforming our health care system and expanding access to quality health care.
"He has made tough decisions to set our country on the right track. Troops are coming home from Iraq, and our economy is beginning to recover. We have made progress but there is more to do."
Rep. Neil Abercrombie, D-Hawai'i, who is running for governor, said Obama "struck the right tone" by focusing on the daily struggles of Americans.
"He zeroed right in," Abercrombie said. "He had a real conversation with the American people and touched on their principal fears and anxieties. He took us away from the banging of heads between the elephants and donkeys and brought us together on everyday issues that affect not just Hawai'i but the entire country."
Rep. Mazie Hirono, D-Hawai'i, said, "The president covered a lot of ground, but what I liked was his very clear focus on jobs and in helping the middle class and small business."