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Owens, Doheny react to Obama SOTU

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Washington correspondent Marc Heller has this story on reactions from Rep. Bill Owens, D-Plattsburgh, and his likely Republican opponent in 2012, Matt Doheny
WASHINGTON — Rep. William L. Owens said he liked President Barack Obama’s optimistic outlook on the economy in Tuesday’s State of the Union address, even if the north country’s job picture isn’t obviously improving.

“I’m not sure we’re seeing evidence of it,” Mr. Owens said after Mr. Obama pointed to job growth in businesses and manufacturing in the address to a joint session of Congress. “But I can tell you the feeling is better. I think there’s a change of tone.”

Mr. Owens, D-Plattsburgh, had plenty of praise for the Democratic president’s speech, which lacked some of past years’ ambitious language on recovery-oriented spending, high-speed rail and other objectives yet managed to call for infrastructure spending and other measures that could help boost jobs but not increase the deficit — assuming other revenue can be found.

Mr. Owens said he liked the president’s praise for the military, which came at the beginning of the speech as Mr. Obama hailed troops for their work in Afghanistan and Iraq. He said he liked the president’s focus on manufacturing when he talked about the economy, and appreciated the discussion of promoting fairer trade with China by blocking cheap imports that undermine U.S. manufacturers.

He said he also appreciated Mr. Obama’s mention of reversing a regulation that could have forced dairy farmers to develop spill response plans for milk, which the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency was poised to classify as an oil because of its fat content.

“Unfortunately, he appeared to take credit for it,” Mr. Owens said. The milk regulation was in fact part of an Obama administration proposal on oil spills, although the EPA eventually exempted milk.

And while the president called for a more cooperative spirit in Congress, Mr. Owens said he did not get a sense in the chamber that fellow lawmakers are set to embrace bipartisanship — although the House continued a tradition of Democrats sitting with Republicans rather than dividing into opposite sides of the room.

Mr. Owens’s Republican challenger, Matthew A. Doheny, offered his own reaction, calling the president’s overall plan a “nightmare.”

The Obama blueprint is to create a “fair” society, in which government uses its heavy hand to try to erase the disparity between poor and rich. “The president’s assumption is that government can devise a more equitable society than the people can themselves create,” Mr. Doheny said. “I could not disagree more.”

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