Central New York congressmen are generally reacting positively to President Barack Obama's State of the Union address. Fellow democrat and Syracuse-area representative Dan Maffei said he agrees with the president that Washington should focus on creating new jobs and expanding economic opportunities.
"His emphasis on making sure that people can work their way into the middle class I thought was very good. And unfortunately, due to a lot of things not just in the U.S. but around the world, the middle class continues to get squeezed. And so, anything where we can make life a little bit easier for middle class families I think is a good thing," Maffei said.
Republican Rep. Richard Hanna, who represents an area stretching from Utica to Binghamton, said he supports some of the president's ideas like equal pay for women and universal pre-kindergarten. But he sees pros and cons to one of the president's economic proposals, raising the federal minimum wage.
"I do think though that when unemployment is so high it's probably less likely that you'll increase job growth by increasing the minimum wage. Certainly the minimum wage is not a living wage by any standard," Hanna said.
Hanna also said the State of the Union was less combative than many people anticipated, and that he feels the president engaged the GOP, especially on the topic of immigration. But, when it comes to Obama's statements that he would bypass Congress if necessary, Hanna says the president has some legal rights to do that, but should respect the constitution. Still, Hanna acknowledges it can be hard to get anything done in congress these days.
"A lot of the blame spread around because the Congress doesn't get its work done either. A lot of these appointments that he wants to make could be done a lot easier if people would stop demagoguing over one thing that has nothing to do with something else."