Iowa weighs in on Obama’s final State of the Union

U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-iowa

Alex Hanson

President Obama’s State of the Union is getting a mixed reaction depending on who you talk to, with Democrats applauding his non-traditional speech focused on a vision, and Republicans disappointed he did not tackle important issues.

Obama’s speech veered off what you would expect from a traditional address, which historically has been filled with specific policy proposals. Instead, Obama laid out four planks of his vision, including broad ideas such as a “fair shot” in a “new economy,” and using technology to our advantage.

Mack Shelley, university professor of political science, said the speech did indeed veer off of what we would usually see in a State of the Union, instead the speech may have been a preview of the rest of Obama’s term — not accomplishing much policy, but setting up a vision for what he wants the next president to accomplish.

“I think it was [a non-traditional address], and he’s at the end of the road, so it’s hard to come up with a laundry list of brand new initiatives — he’s not going to get anything through Congress,” Shelley said.

Speaking after the address, U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, said he wished he would have heard more from Obama on specific issues facing America, especially national security and economic security.

“Those are the two things that are most on the public’s mind right now,” Grassley said.

He mentioned low economic growth after the recession and what he called Obama’s failure on the issue that everyone agrees government is tasked with: protecting the American people through national security policy.

U.S. Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, said in a conference call with reporters Wednesday morning that she was disappointed that Obama failed to address “reality” with what America is facing.

“An overwhelming majority of Americans think the country is on the wrong track,” Ernst said. “The president doubled down on his failed policies of the past, from Obamacare to more burdensome regulations, restricting law abiding Iowan’s second amendment rights.”

Ernst, the first female veteran to serve in the Senate, said that even though national security is a top concern for Americans, Obama also ignored an opportunity to outline a comprehensive plan to defeat ISIS and fight terror.

U.S. Rep. Dave Loebsack, who is the only Democrat serving in Congress from Iowa, said in a statement he appreciates Obama speaking to Congress and laying out his vision.

Loebsack specifically mentioned Obama’s proposals on job training programs, economic security and renewable energy. He also praised Obama’s call to change how America operates politically.

“I especially appreciate the president’s call to set aside politics and work together,” Loebsack said. “None of our priorities will be possible if Congress can’t put aside the partisan gridlock and ideological divisions that have threatened our economy time and again. I will continue to work with anyone, regardless of party, who wants to advance our shared principles.”