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Words from Washington

A missed opportunity to address America's economy

As a member of Congress, I have the privilege of attending the President's annual State of the Union address. Leading up to this year's speech, presented last week, I hoped the President would embrace bipartisan solutions to grow our economy.

Unfortunately, he instead chose to pump up the partisan rhetoric and ignore our ever-growing fiscal problems. The President missed an important opportunity to announce bipartisan policies that would help America's job creators.

Devoid of detail and high on politics and platitudes, President Obama's speech could be characterized as none other than a campaign speech. Unfortunately, over the past three years, rousing speeches have not translated into prosperity and job creation.

In his address to the nation, there was little or no mention that our nation faces the highest number of unemployed Americans since the Great Depression, of his nearly trillion dollar failed stimulus plan, the government takeover of health care, or the vast number of new regulations put into place by his Administration. The President is clearly shying away from his record of the past three years.

Since the President was sworn in, almost two million more Americans have lost their jobs, gas prices have doubled, new business start-ups have fallen to a 17-year low, and the number of Americans relying on food stamps is at an all-time high. Also coincidentally, the President forgot to mention that the day of his State of the Union speech marked 1,000 days since his Senate Democrats even bothered to pass a budget. Forcing the government to operate without a budget for nearly three years is just one way the President and Congressional Democrats have taken our spending-driven debt crisis from worrisome to disastrous.

I also take issue with the President taking credit for accomplishments that are not his. In his speech, the President adopted my 'All-of-the-Above' American Energy Plan principles. Unfortunately, his lofty rhetoric on increasing American energy production does not match up with his Administration's job-destroying actions that have blocked new energy production on federal lands and waters.

Serving as the Chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee, I have held numerous hearings and introduced proposals to increase domestic energy production. While the President could have acted on these common sense policies, he chose not to. He did however choose to take credit for increased domestic energy, which is the result of previous Administration's policies, while his own actions have only locked up more of our nation's vast resources.

Rather than just echoing Republican policy objectives, the President should adopt some of our job-creating proposals to open up new areas, expand access and increase American energy production.

During his address, President Obama promised more of the same - policies we know do not promote job growth - rather than encouraging Congress to work with him on free-market solutions to spur our economic growth and get our fiscal house in order. There are bipartisan solutions that can help American job creators. In fact, the Republican-led House of Representatives passed 27 jobs bills to get people back to work, and a majority of them had bipartisan support. Unfortunately, the Senate refuses to even debate the merits of the bills and the President chooses to completely ignore them.

Recently, President Obama's own Jobs Council released a report validating many Republican ideas on job creation, including tax reform, regulatory relief and increasing domestic energy. If President Obama focused less on the upcoming election and more on bipartisan solutions to help our economy, more Americans would be back to work.

This year, I will continue my work to cut out-of-control government spending, reduce our crushing debt and promote policies to get Americans back to work. I remain hopeful that Congress and the White House can work together to find common ground and solve our nation's problems - despite our differences.

- Congressman Doc Hastings (R-Pasco) represents Central Washington's Fourth Congressional District.

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