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Rep. Deal differs on ideology in Obama’s address

POSTED: February 25, 2009 12:51 a.m.

Two members of Georgia’s congressional delegation gave President Barack Obama’s address to Congress and the nation Tuesday night a thumbs-up for its style but were less impressed with its substance.

U.S. Rep. Nathan Deal, R-Gainesville, gave Obama high marks for the delivery of his speech but said he had some philosophical differences with the president’s policies. Deal made his comments to The Times’ Harris Blackwood, who attended the speech in the U.S. House chamber.

“I think there are some practical differences,” Deal said. “On one hand, he said we should spend all this money and create all of these programs, and at the same time, he said we will solve the deficit.”

Deal joined his fellow Republicans in applauding Obama a number of times during the 52-minute speech. However, he remained seated with his GOP colleagues when Obama acknowledged the passage of the recent $787 billion stimulus package.

The president, in his first address before a joint session of Congress, outlined his approach to turning around the nation’s slumping economy. He also addressed energy, health care and education, all in the context of how they impact the economy.

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

“The only way this century will be another American century is if we confront at last the price of our dependence on oil and the high cost of health care, the schools that aren’t preparing our children and the mountain of debt they stand to inherit,” Obama said. “That is our responsibility.”

U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., in a statement, applauded the positive tone of the president’s speech.

“I thought it was a good speech overall,” Isakson said. “I thought the optimism on the economy was needed, and the reassurance on the banking system was important. I appreciate the spirit and the tone on health care and education, and I look forward to seeing the details of both of those proposals.”

Earlier in the day, Isakson offered his plan on turning around the economy, including tax credits for homebuyers, offering refinancing under the White House plan to all mortgage holders and further moves to stabilize the shaky financial markets.

“Our people are in difficult times. We have difficult economic circumstances, and it’s imperative that we move forward together — members of the House and Senate with the executive branch — to find the solutions to the challenges before us,” Isakson said in a statement.

In the Republican response to the speech, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal said his party would support the president when they agree, but he criticized the stimulus plan that passed Congress with the support of only three GOP senators.

“The way to lead is not to raise taxes and put more money and power in hands of Washington politicians,” Jindal said. “Who among us would ask our children for a loan, so we could spend money we do not have, on things we do not need?”



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