Peoria Journal Star

January 21, 2004 

Illinois lawmakers show partisan reaction to speech -
Democrats say future isn't so bright; GOP defends president 


By DORI MEINERT
Copley News Service

WASHINGTON, D.C. - Illinois lawmakers reacted in partisan fashion to President Bush's State of the Union address Tuesday night, with Democrats criticizing his proposals and Republicans praising them.

"Sadly, the president's speech was long on rhetoric, but fell short when it came to spelling out how the administration plans on restoring us to full economic prosperity," Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., said. "Judging from this speech, President Bush believes our economy is in recovery. A jobless recovery in Illinois is no recovery at all. And more tax breaks for the wealthy is no recipe for economic health."

Rep. Lane Evans, D-Rock Island, agreed, saying, "For too many Americans and citizens across our area, the future isn't bright. Our economy is stagnating and jobs are going overseas instead of being created here."

"The priorities of this administration and the Republicans in Congress are standing for wealthy corporate and special interests and standing in the way of what is in the best interests of the American people. That is limiting our possibilities and new opportunities for progress," Evans
said.

However, Republican Sen. Peter Fitzgerald praised Bush for demonstrating in his speech to the nation "his calm, steady leadership abilities."

"He realizes the world changed after Sept. 11 and he is not wavering in his commitment to fight terrorism aggressively on foreign soil in order to prevent catastrophic acts of violence in our country."

Fitzgerald also praised Bush for being "true to his principles in
continuing to bring tax relief to working Americans. He also recognizes the need to make health care more affordable and available. He's on target in pressing Congress to stop abusive lawsuits, particularly in the medical field. At the same time, the President rightly seeks to make our immigration laws more humane and welcoming."

Rep. Ray LaHood, R-Peoria, noted that Bush "spent a lot of time talking about the war on terror and I think that is an issue that still resonates with lot of people in central Illinois and lot of people in the nation. "

He said the president hit another key point in urging that tax cuts be made permanent.

"Two issues are going to define whether people are going to vote for the president or one of his Democratic opponents - the economy and the war on terror. And I think people have great confidence in President Bush in the war on terror, all the polls show that.

"I also think people feel pretty good about the economy and I feel certain that we're heading in the right direction on that," LaHood said. Rep. Tim Johnson, R-Urbana, praised Bush for meeting daunting international and domestic challenges in his first term in office.

"He has provided our country with courageous leadership while
maintaining good, mainstream values," Johnson said. "I applaud his aggressiveness and willingness to make America a stronger and safer country whether that is through defense, homeland security, economic growth or technological advancements."

Johnson said he supports the "concept" of the president's call for a more expansive space program, but acknowledged its price tag could be an obstacle to its passage.

Rep. Jerry Weller, R-Morris, said Bush "outlined serious challenges facing our country and set a course for the nation to make us more secure, more prosperous and to provide our citizens greater hope for the future. I was pleased to hear the president reinforce his call to grow the economy and ensure that every American who wants a job finds a job."