LI politicians talk Obama's 100 days
By Reid Epstein
April 29, 2009
One hundred days into President Barack Obama's four-year term, local Democrats are uniformly praising him while Republicans, mindful of the president's high approval ratings, are criticizing him cautiously.
Rep. Steve Israel (D-Dix Hills) said he can't think of one thing Obama has done with which he disagrees. Obama's biggest accomplishment, Israel said, is directing $90 billion in federal investment and tax incentives for new energy technologies.
"For 30 years we have had missteps and backsteps on new energy technologies," Israel said. "This president in 100 days has changed the game."
Israel said Obama has done as much in his first 14 weeks in office as any president since Franklin Delano Roosevelt.
"The economic similarities are profound," Israel said.
Nassau County Executive Thomas Suozzi said that, from a local perspective, the economic stimulus package Obama pushed through Congress "would have been enough for us.
"Some people said he's doing too much," Suozzi said. "But he's doing everything he said he was going to do."
And Suffolk Legis. DuWayne Gregory (D-Amityville) praised Obama for moving toward repairing the nation's relationship with countries such as Cuba and Venezuela.
"We're tearing down barriers there," Gregory said.
Even Rep. Peter King(R-Seaford) praised Obama for an aggressive GOP outreach effort and said that would help him in the future.
"He realizes it is important to have decent personal relations with people in the other party," King said. "He's making it harder for congressional Republicans to demonize him."
But King, like other Republicans, wholeheartedly disagrees with Obama's economic policies.
"I think it's too much spending," he said. "He's using the economy as an opportunity to expand liberal programs which I oppose."
Joseph Mondello, the state and Nassau GOP chairman, said Republicans wish Obama success dealing with the nation's problems, but oppose what he called a "severe leftward lurch."
Obama's policies, Mondello said, "should deeply concern every American who supports lower taxes, smaller government, spending restraint, a firm commitment to free enterprise and an unwavering resolve to protect our country and its citizens from the very real threat of international terrorism."
New York's Democratic U.S. senators both broadly praised Obama's first 100 days in office.
Sen. Charles Schumer credited Obama for boosting the nation's morale.
"The president has given America confidence once again that, despite serious problems, we will be able to work our way out of them," he said.
And Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, who was appointed to her seat six days after Obama's inauguration, praised Obama's economic policies during the nation's economic crisis.
"The first 100 days have been a success, but there is much more work to do," she said.
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