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Obama targets middle class benefits in State of the Union
GOP leaders in Congress decry president's 'empty rhetoric'
Obama State of Union Albe
President Barack Obama delivers his State of the Union address Tuesday to a joint session of Congress on Capitol Hill in Washington. Vice President Joe Biden and House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio, listen in the background. - photo by Mandel Ngan, Pool

President Barack Obama laid out a vision for his final two years in the White House in Tuesday’s State of the Union address. Now his challenge is to get both the American public and the Republican majority in Congress on board.

In his next-to-last State of the Union, delivered two years from the day his successor will take the oath of office, Obama offered his plan to "turn the page" on the wars and troubled economic times that marked his first six years in office.

“It's now up to us to choose who we want to be over the next 15 years, and for decades to come," he said.

The goals he laid out included:

• Raising taxes on the wealthy via higher rates on capital gains to pay for middle class tax credits and free community college to students who qualify. "Middle class economics works,” Obama said.

• Increasing paid leave for workers and lowering a mortgage insurance rate to attract first-time homebuyers.

• Authorization to launch a military campaign against the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria.

Yet Republicans in Congress aren’t ready to buy in to the president’s agenda, including those from Georgia.

“Clearly, the current path isn’t working,” freshman Sen. David Perdue said in a video response. “Yet, what we continue to hear from the president is more of the same. Georgians see through this empty rhetoric. They expect and deserve more from their government.”

“I am very disappointed the president has chosen to lower expectation and raise taxes on the American people just at a time when we are beginning to recover,” Sen. Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., said. “His plan is like pouring cold water on small businesses and employers. It is time to lift overly burdensome regulation and have a tax policy that’s fair and equitable to all Americans.”

U.S. Rep. Doug Collins, a Gainesville Republican, says Obama’s promises have not matched his results.

“President Obama has said that he wants to reduce burdensome regulations, while his agencies produce a record number,” Collins said in a video response. “He has said that he wants to reduce the national debt, which has nearly doubled in his six years of leadership. He has denied that he has the Constitutional power to rule by decree — and then he's done exactly that.”

Another Senate freshman, Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, offered the official GOP response, saying "Americans have been hurting, but when we demanded solutions, too often Washington responded with the same stale mindset that led to failed policies like Obamacare."

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