Local lawmakers react to Obama’s address

Rep. Turner critical speech didn’t deal with sequestration cuts for Defense Dpt.

Rep. Mike Turner sharply criticized President Barack Obama for not offering a plan Tuesday in his State of the Union address to reverse the automatic spending cuts scheduled for the Pentagon for the next decade, which the Dayton Republican said military experts will lead the military to a “grinding halt.”

In a statement, Turner said the automatic spending cuts – known as a sequester – “will affect mission readiness and our deployed personnel around the globe, while having deep impacts to vital national security installations like Wright-Paterson Air Force Base, and the corresponding civilian jobs within our southwest Ohio community and across the country.”

“National security is a constitutional responsibility and the president’s failure to address sequestration in tonight’s speech is a significant and meaningful omission,” said Turner, who chairs the House Armed Services Subcommittee on Tactical Air and Land Forces.

Under the 2011 budget agreement between Congress and the White House, the Pentagon must cut $500 billion from what it originally planned to spend during the next decade.

Other Republicans were unhappy with Obama’s speech. Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Urbana, said that if the “president’s big government ideas worked, then our problems would have been solved a long time ago. Instead, for the past six years we have piled more and more debt on future generations of Americans with little economic growth to show for it.”

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By contrast, Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, said Obama made “clear that we must not reverse course on our nation’s 58 straight months of private sector job growth.”

“We do that by growing our economy in ways that make it possible for everyone – regardless of their zip code – to succeed,” Brown said.

But Brown objected to Obama’s call for Congress to approve the type of broad authority he wants to negotiate a 12-nation trade agreement that would stretch from Canada to Asia. If Congress grants Obama’s request, lawmakers could only approve or reject a trade pact negotiated by the administration rather than amend it.

“Before rush to any more NAFTA-style trade deals, we need to invest in American jobs first,” said Brown, referring to the 1993 North American Free Trade Agreement with Canada and Mexico. “It’s time to put an end to the kind of trade deals that have sold out both American workers and American manufacturers.”

(Jessica Wehrman of the Washington bureau contributed to this story.)

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