February 13, 2013

Collins wanted more details, but speech satisfies delegation

By Kevin Miller kmiller@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

WASHINGTON — Members of Maine's congressional delegation offered mixed reviews of President Obama's State of the Union speech on Tuesday.

Sen. Susan Collins, Maine's only Republican member of Congress, said she appreciated some aspects of the president's plan but was lukewarm on others. She also criticized the president as being too "light on details" for financing much of his plan.

"The president outlined a very ambitious agenda but I am very unclear how he is going to pay for all of it, given our $16.4 trillion deficit," Collins told reporters.

Collins said she was pleased with his emphasis on investing in infrastructure -- such as fixing crumbling bridges -- but said he did not outline a plan to put the country on sounder fiscal footing.

She also said she found it "puzzling" that the president did not mention mental health in his brief discussion on gun violence.

Democratic Rep. Chellie Pingree said she was pleased that the president "put the focus back on the economy."

"He's right that we should continue developing clean energy so we can cut our dependence on foreign oil and create jobs at home, including right here in Maine," Pingree said in a statement. "Like him, I'm hopeful that we can finally pass meaningful immigration reform. Finally, I appreciate that he has not backed down on reducing violence in this country."

Rep. Mike Michaud agreed with the president's focus on expanding the nation's manufacturing base as part of an economic development strategy. He then offered the president two suggestions: address unfair subsidies for a Nova Scotia paper mill and order the military to supply all of its uniform components -- including footwear -- from American factories. The latter would potentially help Maine's New Balance factories.

Michaud also called for more focus on veterans' issues.

Independent Sen. Angus King said the president "eloquently presented us with his vision for the future of America." King said the first step that Congress and the White House must take is to address the across-the-board spending cuts slated to kick in next month and then create a long-term budget.

King said he was pleased to hear the president's comments on bringing American combat troops home while pledging to keep Congress informed about his administration's counter-terrorism efforts.

"Now, the question becomes: are we, as members of Congress, prepared to work with each other and with the president, in good faith and in a nonpartisan fashion, to accomplish the necessary work of the American people?" King said in a statement.

Kevin Miller can be contacted at 317-6256 or at: kmiller@mainetoday.com

On Twitter: @KevinMillerDC


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