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Politics and Government

Oklahoma’s Governor, Congressional Delegation React To State Of The Union

President Obama delivers his annual State of the Union address Tuesday night before a joint session of Congress.
The White House

Most of Oklahoma’s Congressional delegation and executive leadership criticized President Obama’s annual State of the Union address Tuesday night – some even before the speech took place.

Gov. Mary Fallin says Obama can achieve his goal of improving the economic conditions of the middle class by relying on the energy sector to grow the economy and raise per-capita income.

Fallin spoke to Fox Business's Neil Cavuto Tuesday night about 10 minutes before the president entered the House chamber to deliver his address to a joint session of Congress.

She said Obama wants to expand what she called an already-bloated government through raising the top capital gains rate, imposing fees on large financial firms, and making community college free.

“Republican govenors have done the opposite. They’ve cut taxes. They’ve had fair regulations for businesses that created better business climates to invest and to grow. They’ve created energy jobs,” Fallin said. “And those are the types of things – things that help small businesses, improve education – those are things that Republican governors are doing. We’re not going to see the solutions from Washington. We’re going to see them from the states.”

Fallin also said she wanted to see the president "get serious" about border control. The president touched on immigration only briefly in last night's address, saying he would veto any bill that comes to his desk he says would revisit past battles.

She also called on Obama to approve the northern leg of the Keystone XL pipeline.

U.S. Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla. 4) said the president missed an opportunity to focus on areas where bipartisan agreement is possible.

Credit U.S. Rep. Tom Cole / Flickr

Speaking to NPR's Robert Siegel immediately after the annual address to a joint session to Congress, Cole said deals can be reached if the president and Congress are willing to take a gritty view of what's possible and be willing to settle for less than they might like.

“That’s true for both sides, by the way. I’m not just preaching that to the president,” Cole said. “Republicans need to remember he’s still got a veto and Democrats control the filibuster in the Senate. So divided government can do some good things, but you’re never going to walk away satisfied that you got everything you want.”

Cole said the GOP could likely work with the president on infrastructure, trade, and precision medicine.

He told NPR's David Greene on Morning Edition Wednesday he feels the president has been provocative since the midterm election.

But he also applauded the president for working with Congressional Republicans during the so-called "cromnibus" negotiations to set federal spending through September 30.

“If he’ll take that approach, I think he’ll find willing partners in a number of areas,” Cole said. “We clearly support him on trade, when his own party doesn’t. I think we clearly agree with him that there’s a need for new authorization on [the self-proclaimed Islamic State]. So there are areas to work together.”

The president said he wants to raise taxes on higher-income Americans to pay for lower taxes for the middle class and pay for an education initiative that's the centerpiece of his 2015 agenda.

Cole called that an unfair redistribution of wealth, and said Obama used the tax issue for a partisan advantage. Cole said successfully enacting that with this Congress would be unlikely.

U.S. Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.) attended his first State of the Union as a member of Congress’ upper chamber.

Credit U.S. Sen. James Lankford / Flickr
U.S. Sen. James Lankford tapes an interview with FOX23 in Tulsa before Tuesday night's State of the Union address.

He said he's thankful the economy is improving, but said Oklahomans and the rest of the country can't be complacent about stagnant hourly wages, a sluggish labor force, and high federal debt.

“The unemployment rate has fallen primarily because the labor force participation rate remains extremely high,” Lankford said in a statement. “If the labor force participation rate were the same as when the President took office, the unemployment rate would be 9.9 percent. The federal deficit is way too high at nearly half-a-trillion dollars.”

U.S. Rep. Frank Lucas (R-Okla. 3) also called on the president to approve the Keystone XL pipeline, and criticized the tax proposals to raise the top capital gains rate from 23.8 percent to 28 percent on couples making more than $500,000, eliminate a tax break on inheritances and impose a fee on large financial firms.

Congressman Markwayne Mullin (R-Okla. 2) also voiced his disappointment with the speech in a YouTube video late Tuesday night.

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