By Kelsey Dentinger
BU News Service
WASHINGTON — President Obama’s State of the Union address tonight is expected to not only reflect his much publicized gun control and immigration agenda, but also to refocus his economic and job creation priorities.
It’s a speech agenda with which members of Connecticut’s congressional delegation seem largely in tune.
Referring to the tragedy in Newtown as a “call to action,” Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., said Monday that he hopes President Obama doesn’t just endorse gun control in his speech, but also “strongly make[s] the case” for a ban on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines.
Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., also mentioned the need for President Obama to “challenge both parties in Congress to step up to the plate, take on the powerful gun lobby and do what the American people want us to do.”
On immigration, Blumenthal said he wants Obama to discuss “reform in a way that indicates that it will be at the forefront of his agenda.” He hopes that the president’s plan will include a path to citizenship, stronger border control, streamlining of the immigration process, and “a crackdown” on employers of illegal workers.
Rep. Joe Courtney, D-Conn., acknowledged a general feeling of “guarded optimism” towards the economy and job growth, but also stressed that there is more to be done. He attributed some of the nation’s economic troubles to “nervousness” about Washington.
Blumenthal also noted that “an obstacle to economic recovery is the uncertainty and unpredictability that comes from Washington itself,” citing the sequester— automatic budget cuts due to kick in March 1 if Congress fails to act—as an example.
Courtney said Connecticut’s “faltering” economy could be seen very clearly in everything from homebuilders to real estate to car sales.
Blumenthal said the unemployment issue in Connecticut is even more pronounced in the state’s large veterans population. He said addressing issues such as skill training, education, health care, increased manufacturing and homelessness will work towards raising employment.
Blumenthal also said that closing tax loopholes, spending responsibly and protecting and strengthening Medicare will benefit the economy overall.
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