KTUU: Congressional delegates, local parties, react to State of the Union

ANCHORAGE, Alaska - In his first State of the Union Address, President Obama promised more focus on jobs.

But he pointed a finger at Republicans and admitted he's inspired doubt among those who trusted him to change Washington.

After the address, Sen. Lisa Murkowski said she was surprised that Obama asked senators to take another look at his healthcare proposal.

"To ask us to go back to a proposal that is a $2.5 trillion proposal, increases premiums, increases taxes, cuts to Medicare of about a half trillion dollars, I just don't think that it's going to work now in the Senate any more than it was working before," Murkowski said.

Congressman Don Young released a statement and emphasized the need for job creation to boost the economy.

"We need to start producing again, beginning with Alaska's resources, and we can do this in a responsible and cost-effective way that creates real jobs for real working families in our state," Young said in a written statement.

Sen. Mark Begich praised President Obama's speech. He said Obama acknowledged the difficulties of the past year, but also looked ahead to the positive changes his administration will make to improve the economy and the job market

"I think it was an upbeat, positive speech, but he recognized the challenges over the last year. The American people are struggling, Alaskans are struggling. I think his message was about the next year and what we need to be focused on, which is jobs and energy, making sure we continue our fight on terror and ensuring that we control the spending and manage our deficit into the future," Begich said.

Back at home, local Democrats and Republicans had much different views of the speech.

While one side says it's a speech that ignites a generation, the other says it's more of the same old stuff.

We went to a watch party hosted by local Democrats, many of who said it's time for the president to get tough.

Inside Bernie's Bungalow Heather Aronno and other local Democrats turned up and tuned in to hear the president's state of the union speech.
"I expect to hear about the jobs bill that he's been talking about, expect a huge amount of focus on the economy," she said.

Obama spoke about the economy, jobs and the stimulus plan.

"We're fixing roads; we're building hospitals. We're taking care of things that haven't been attended to for years and years and years, and even if that is only one person's job, that's one more job in the bucket that we can add," said Jonathan Teeters, the Alaska director of Organizing for America.

For Aronno it was the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy that got her attention.

"I was pleased by a lot of what I heard. I was very pleased to hear his re-dedication to ending Don't Ask, Don't Tell. I think it's really the best thing for the service people," Aronno said.

While this crowd was overwhelmingly pleased with what they heard, the other side didn't see things on the same level.

"It's the same Obama speech that we've seen him give 100 times. We're going to blame Bush for everything, we're going to make a lot of promises that we may or may not keep and hope that nobody notices the last year of his presidency his actual track record," said Casey Reynolds with the Alaska Republican Party.

Republicans say they heard a lot of plans from the president, including tax breaks for education. But say there's one thing missing.

"He has this litany of new spending initiatives and didn't really talk about how he is going to pay for it. So that's obviously very concerning," Reynolds said.

It's the party politics that Lisa Knowles says she's tired of.

"He's one man. We can only do so much. We have 500 and what 35 other people in there that are supposed to be helping, so that's where I see the issue is with those others, those in and out of there. That's where the problem lies," Knowles said.

Local Republicans say they need to hear how the president is going to pay for projects he spoke about while Democrats say they're glad the president seems to be getting tougher.

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Source: By Jackie Bartz, Jason Lamb and Rebecca Palsha. Originally aired by KTUU on January 27, 2010