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Pols weigh in on Obama’s speech

U.S. Rep. Bill Foster, D-Naperville, and State Sen. Jim Oberweis, R-Sugar Grove, held differing views of President Obama’s State of the Union Address on Tuesday night.

In a statement, Foster said he supported President Obama’s State of the Union Address, especially Obama’s agenda to support working families and his call to action.

“Everyone deserves a shot at the American dream – to get a good education, a job that supports a family, and a place to call home,” Foster said in a prepared statement. “Unfortunately, for too many, that dream is becoming harder to achieve. Our country succeeds when our middle class succeeds and it is critical that our policies support working families.”

Foster criticized Congress’ failure to act on critical issues, such as unemployment insurance, raising the minimum wage, commonsense gun control laws and comprehensive immigration reform. 

Oberweis said the president was “trying to be upbeat” but cautioned that “the devil is always in the details.”

For example, Obama mentioned closing loop holes and wanting to help entrepreneurs that are “positive sounding and that most of us at first blush would agree with until we start looking at the details.”

But he’s done so many things that hurt entrepreneurs, including raising taxes and through Obamacare, and that made things uncertain, Oberweis said. Obama also talked about energy independence and increased oil production – something Oberweis said happened “not because of his actions, but despite them.”

Oberweis pointed to not allowing drilling on public land and the Keystone pipeline, which would improve oil transportation.

Oberweis called it “a little disingenuous.”

Regarding raising the minimum wage, Oberweis said, everyone believes someone who is willing to work should have an opportunity for a new job “but we can’t forget the real world fact that nobody believes that a head of a family of three or four people can take care of that family on minimum wage. It was never intended to be that way.”

The minimum wage was intended for entry level jobs, for young workers, he said. Raising it “would make it more difficult [for young people] to get a job and learn basic skills so they can go on to get better jobs so they can gain in knowledge and experience. … Our government restrictions and interference has made it more difficult, especially for African-American youths, to get good jobs.”

Also, U.S. Rep. Randy Hultgren, R-Winfield, said he agreed with Obama that “we need to get Americans back to work” but added that “unfortunately, the president shares the mentality in Illinois and Washington to spend money we don’t have and force burdensome regulations on the businesses providing jobs to middle-class families.”

And U.S. Rep. Peter Roskam, R-Wheaton, said Americans want change. “Instead of dividing up an increasingly shrinking slice of the pie, let’s join together in growing the whole economy for the benefit of all Americans.”

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