Atlanta's state of the union reaction

Republican U.S. Sen. Saxby Chambliss

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"We still are waiting for Republicans to join us in solving today's problems. Instead of simply blocking our progress to score political points, we should all work for the success of our President's efforts to revitalize America."

Democratic U.S. Rep. Hank Johnson

Lithonia

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“I know from traveling Georgia there is one major issue on people’s minds: jobs and the economy. It’s essential that the President start to handle it in a meaningful way. It’s obvious the stimulus didn’t help with the unemployment situation. We have a very uncertain marketplace right now. We need to bring clarity and opportunity for the private sector to make those investments that are necessary to bring back our economy."

Republican U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson

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“President Obama rightly focused on jobs, foreclosures and the economy. If Americans don’t have a job, a home or security, then everything else is unimportant. We need to simplify healthcare reform and tie it to economic recovery."

Democratic U.S. Rep. David Scott

Atlanta

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“The president spoke once again about his desire to create jobs, control spending, and work with Republicans. All three of these things are noble goals. Unfortunately, to this point, these promises have proved nothing but empty rhetoric. Hope springs eternal and maybe this time, whether because of a change of heart or a change in the political landscape, the president will follow through on what he is promising."

Republican U.S. Rep. Phil Gingrey

Marietta

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"After President Obama landed in Washington he found out it was going to be more of a challenge to change things than he thought. I think it caught him by surprise. I think he needs to learn how Washington works to get anything done."

Karl Mann, 49

IT manager

Marietta

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"The rhetoric is good. My question is about the small-business tax break he said he would give. Historically, democrats have taxed small business quite heavily, so is this just rhetoric? The healthcare bill, I think, will hurt small businesses. Where is the money going to come from? I am not holding my breath. The devil is in the detail."

Jimmy Honeycutt, 71

Private investigator

Locust Grove

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"It met my expectations. Small businesses really are the backbone of America. It's important to stimulate the economy. It's important to help small businesses so we can hire more people and put them back to work."

Wafiyyah Nuriddin

Restaurant owner

Atlanta

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"He's given an honest read of what's going on and he has a clear vision. But I'm disheartened that congress is so divided. I don't think the speech will change what's happening. Sitting there and watching the congress you can see the congress is more interested in blocking each other. That's reflective of what's going on in the world. Everyone is out for themselves and there's not much help coming from congress."

Kevin McKelvey, 51

Advertising agency partner

Atlanta

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“As a parent of a junior in college, I am really encouraged about his plan to cut college costs and to make college more affordable for middle-class families. My husband and I have two other children to put through college and [we] are still paying our own college loans. Education is a great equalizer. The president said our children’s success can’t just depend on where they live, it needs to depend on their potential. Students in rural and urban centers must have access to world-class education. ”

Nina Gilbert, 43

Head of school, Ivy Preparatory Academy

Lawrenceville

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“I think that choosing to speak about the economy over healthcare was strategic. Everyone agrees that there is an unemployment crisis in the country, whether you’re a Republican or a Democrat. Proposing ideas that will help reduce unemployment is going to be bipartisan at some level. I thought that he also did a good job starting off with the positive things that have happened in the last year, discussing the stimulus package. The economy is rebounding at some level. It could be a lot worse. There were positives in 2009 even if it doesn’t feel that way or the situation is not where the American public wants it to be.”

Roy Levkovitz, 26

Woodward Academy teacher

Decatur

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“I think it’s great. I think the president gets it. He came out with some initiatives for the family and small businesses, the bedrock of the American economy. I like that he’s going to give $3 billion to extend credit to small businesses.”

Mike Helenek, 33

Transportation logistics firm owner

Marietta

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"The speech was very positive. What he was saying was that we must move forward together as one nation and as one people. I also enjoyed him saying that he has never been more hopeful, that some of the things taking place are working, and we can really help solve problems in this nation if the Republicans and Democrats work together."

Phillip Saxton, 55-plus

Marketing and public relations business owner

Dacula

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"Basically, what I heard was a lot of promises, a lot of tax incentives to stimulate the economy without any way to pay for them. I do agree that something needs to be done for small business. And I haven't been able to get money. I haven't been able to do things, but I want to know how we're going to pay for all of this without putting our children in debt."

Don Shaw, 49

Small business owner

Lawrenceville

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Contributing: Bob Keefe, Jeffry Scott, Shelia Poole, Pat Fox, Ralph Ellis, Mary Lou Pickel, Aileen Dodd

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