A couple of Wisconsin House Democrats say they want to use President Obama’s vow for calmer politics to resolve some pressing issues this year. During his final State of the Union address Tuesday night, the Democratic president regretted that the rancor between the two parties has gotten worse – while highlighting his record and debunking critics who say America is getting weaker.
Third District Democrat Ron Kind of La Crosse and 2nd District Mark Pocan of Madison would like to use Obama’s call for common ground to push for job training programs, helping families afford college, reform the criminal justice system, and federal campaign finance reforms. But 8th District Republican Reid Ribble of Sherwood thought Obama lacked credibility when he called for opponents to reach out. “This president is the most insular that I can remember,” Ribble said.
Obama did not lay out many policy changes, since less gets done in an election year. Ribble did find some space for agreement with the president’s call for redistricting reform. “The parties are pretty far apart as it is, and as red districts get redder and blue districts get bluer, it gets pretty hard to find common ground,” said Ribble, who’s proposed legislation to change how redistricting is done.
The president also conceded that federal regulations can be excessive. “I’m actually encouraged,” said Wisconsin’s Republican Senator, Ron Johnson. “Hopefully we’ll get enough Democratic support to get a result on that in the next few weeks.” Johnson was more dismissive of Obama when it comes to national security, particularly in regards to the threat posed by ISIS. Johnson said Obama lacks a credible strategy to contain the terrorist organization.
“It (ISIS) is a small strain, but when you’ve got one-point-whatever billion Muslims in the world, it doesn’t take a very high percentage to have an awful lot of people, adherents of that barbaric ideology, threatening the civilized world,” Johnson said.
GOP House Speaker Paul Ryan of Janesville calls the Obama speech “lofty platitudes and nostalgic rhetoric” that doesn’t explain how to solve problems.