Details of the president’s annual speech to Congress came under harsh fire from members of the Inland region’s Republican delegation./AP

BY BEN GOAD
WASHINGTON BUREAU
bgoad@pe.com

Published: 24 January 2012 09:18 PM

WASHINGTON — The central initiatives laid out in President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address Tuesday night seem tailored to address Inland Southern California’s largest problems: unemployment and the home foreclosure crisis.

Yet the details of his plan raised concerns from some area officials and came under harsh fire from members of the region’s predominantly Republican congressional delegation, signaling a contentious election year in Washington and a tough road ahead for the president’s agenda.

Rep. Ken Calvert described the speech as overtly political — more focused on his re-election campaign and bashing Republicans than policy measures that have a chance of passing the divided Congress.

“The guy can’t run on his record, so he’s got to run against us,” Calvert, R-Corona, said after the speech.

The region’s sole Democratic House member, Rep. Joe Baca, disputed the notion that the address was designed as a campaign speech, and lauded Obama for tackling issues that hit close to home for Inland residents.

“This is not about politics,” said Baca, D-Rialto. “It’s about what’s right for our country.”

The adversarial tone in the U.S. Capitol stood in stark contrast to last year’s address, which closely followed the shooting of Arizona Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, and was colored by calls for decorum and bipartisanship.

“It sure felt like there was a lot less enthusiasm,” said Rep. Mary Bono Mack, who was among several lawmakers who sat with members of the opposing party this year.

JOBS, HOUSING, ENERGY

Obama’s proposals to boost the nation’s workforce come as the Inland area struggles with a 12.2 percent unemployment rate, nearly four points higher than the national average.

But his plan to give tax incentives to firms that bring overseas jobs to the U.S., and use disincentives such as a new global minimum tax for multinational companies, to discourage outsourcing, is the wrong tactic, said Bono Mack, R-Palm Springs.

Bono Mack, who chairs the House Subcommittee on Manufacturing, Commerce and Trade, said incentives for companies who in-source workers would ignore “home-grown” firms that never outsourced in the first place.

Obama, she said, “clearly doesn’t understand job creation and what it will take to bring the manufacturing industry back.”

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