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Tuesday, January 28, 2014

 11:04 PM 

Wis. Republicans knock president's speech, Dems praise minimum wage, unemployment calls

U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Janesville, knocked the president’s State of the Union address for lacking any new ideas, while Dem members of the state’s congressional delegation praised Barack Obama for his comments on the minimum wage and extending unemployment benefits.

Ryan, the House Budget chair, was critical of Obama in an interview on Fox News for promising to take action on his own if he can’t reach a consensus with lawmakers. In an executive order announced prior to the speech, he raised the minimum wage to $10.10 for federal contract workers. Ryan said Obama’s tone suggested if Congress refuses to pass the laws that he wants, he’ll do it himself.

“That’s going around the Constitution,” Ryan said. “When he says these things and does these things, that in my mind is a violation of his oath.”’

U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin, D-Madison, praised the president for his call to raise the minimum wage.

“We need to reward the hard work of Wisconsinites so an honest day’s work pays more,” she said.

U.S. Reps. Ron Kind, D-La Crosse, and Mark Pocan, D-Madison, also praised the speech and backed the president’s call for extending emergency federal unemployment benefits. Kind said the “American people expect us to work together and do whatever we can promote economic security and growth.”

Pocan added: “Until our economy works for every American, not just those at the top, we will not see widespread American prosperity.”

U.S. Rep. Sean Duffy, R-Weston, expressed disappointment the president did not call for building the Keystone XL pipeline, while U.S. Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner, R-Menomonee Falls, said Obama gave an ultimatum in his speech, “My way or the highway. I choose the highway.”

U.S. Rep. Tom Petri, R-Fond du Lac, said he agreed with the president that low-income workers need the means to support themselves. But rather than increase the minimum wage, a cost he said would be shouldered largely by businesses, Petri called for other options like looking at increasing the Earned Income Tax Credit.

“There are many in Congress -- on both sides of the aisle -- who want to help those who are working and living in poverty,” Petri said.



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