Local delegates praise Obama's speech

February 24, 2009 12:00:00 AM PST
President Barack Obama promised the nation he will lead to a brighter future -- in an address meant to be both reassuring, and a call for unity. The reaction to the president's speech from Bay Area members of Congress was far different than last year.

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The economy was the biggest piece of the president's address and the president's goal was to get the country moving together in the same direction.

The president began by saying weight of the economic crisis will not determine the country's destiny.

"I want every American to know this: we will rebuild, we will recover, and the United States of America will emerge stronger than before," said President Obama.

President Obama said his agenda begins with jobs, the recovery package was the first step, and that his administration will hold the banks and financial institutions accountable.

"This time CEO's won't be able to use taxpayer money to pad their paychecks or buy fancy drapes or disappear on a private jet. Those days are over," said President Obama.

He promised $15 billion a year for alternative energy, he said he was committed to retooling the U.S. auto industry, and reforming health care.

"Let there be no doubt, health care reform cannot wait, it must not wait, and it will not wait another year," said President Obama.

After energy and health care the president said the third challenge is education. Promising more money for schools and teachers, he called on every American to get more than just a high school diploma.

"And dropping out of high school is no longer an option. It's not just quitting on yourself, it's quitting on your country and this country needs and values the talents of every American," said President Obama.

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi was often the first to stand and applaud, but if you take a look at a year ago, as President Bush spoke, she stared at the program. This time the entire Bay Area delegation was enthusiastically behind the president.

"Well you know the president came up to Capitol Hill and gave it to us straight," said Representative Jerry McNerney (D) of Pleasanton.

"President Obama gave a magnificent speech," said Representative Barbara Lee (D) of Oakland.

"I thought it was a terrific speech it was realistic but optimistic," said Representative Zoe Lofgren (D) of San Jose.

"He went on and just clicked off each arena that people needed to hear," said Representative Mike Honda (D) of Campbell.

"He was just so right on," said Representative Lynn Woolsey (D) of Santa Rosa.

"He has I think a bold sweeping agenda," said Ellen Tauscher (D) of Alamo.

"Very optimistic speech, a very populous speech, but also a speech with conservative notes," said Jackie Speier (D) of San Mateo.

Before the speech Tuesday night, before the president entered the hall, lawmakers stood and cheered another man -- Danville resident and pilot Sully Sullenberger.

The President and the President's Cabinet and the Supreme Court justices get the best seats in the house. After that members of Congress had to scramble and Congresswoman Barbara Lee did better than most. She managed to score a seat on the aisle and was right there to greet the president when he walked in.

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