Iowa’s congressional delegation is offering President Obama some advice in these hours before Obama is due to address the nation.
Obama’s “State of the Union” speech tonight gives the president a chance to reset his agenda. Congressman Bruce Braley, a Democrat from Waterloo, says that’s exactly what Obama should do.
“Like most Americans I’m very anxious to hear the president’s remarks tonight and see where he sees us going from this point forward,” Braley says.
Braley, as chair of the House Populist Caucus, is calling for a new tax on bonuses of $50,000 or more for bankers at Wall Street firms that received federal bailout money. In addition, Braley says a “Buy American Act” would eliminate loopholes and help ensure federal agencies buy American goods and services whenever possible.
Braley says Obama needs to get out of the White House and “away from his Ivy League” advisors and connect with “real people” who’ve lost their jobs, homes, businesses.
“And get a better understanding of what is necessary to put people back to work,” Braley says. “He seemed to be heading in that direction with his trip to Ohio last week get away but I think it’s absolutely critical that he get away from Washington and start connecting with people who have been expressing frustration over the direction this country has been headed in.”
Congressman Dave Loebsack, a Democrat from Mount Vernon, says he hopes Obama focuses on jobs.
“Clearly that’s something that I’ve been hearing about throughout the district for quite some time and throughout Iowa,” Loebsack says. “I think that’s the number one concern on the minds of just about all Americans.”
Obama has also indicated he’ll use tonight’s speech to call for a three-year freeze on spending in most domestic programs. That would save an estimated $250 billion over 10 years. Congressman Tom Latham, a Republican from Ames, says the proposal amounts to “next to nothing” when it comes to total federal spending, but Latham’s not rejecting the idea.
“You know, certainly it’s going in the right direction,” Latham says. “I expect him to sound a lot different than he has and, you know, I think people are very skeptical of any statement the president says because what he has said in the past and what has not happened as far as job creation, as far as transparency — all of those things just have not occurred.”
Congressman Steve King, a Republican from Kiron, says Obama faces a tough task tonight.
“He has had so many things that have gone wrong. His popularity has gone down substantially and some of it for good reason — not all of it,” King says. “So the argument that he would put a cap or a freeze on discretionary spending is something that been leaked out that I think he’s intends to say, but that doesn’t do much and I don’t think it changes the political tide.”
King says he wants to commend the president for the role he’s had in “allowing Iraq to be achieved as a victory.”
Iowa’s other congressman, Democrat Leonard Boswell of Des Moines — describes himself as an optimist, and Boswell says Obama needs to prevent Americans an optimistic vision of what’s ahead.
“Some of our dear friends down in Lamoni had their house burn down last night. Well, the firemen didn’t start that fire. They can to save it and there’ll be rebuilding at some point. Well, you know that’s what this administration is doing, trying to put this fire out and start us on a track of rebuilding,” Boswell says. “And I think, to some degree, that’s happening.”
Obama’s speech is scheduled to begin shortly after eight o’clock, Iowa time.