Adriene Hill: President Obama is on the road highlighting his
plan for the economy, and his economic agenda was the focus of his State of the Union address last night.
Barack Obama: Think about the America within our reach: A country that leads the world in educating its people; an America that attracts a new generation of high-tech manufacturing and high paying jobs.
President Obama said he wants to encourage more manufacturing here in the U.S.; wants to bring jobs back to the country. He wants more training for workers; more help for struggling homeowners.
Republican Representative David Schweikert from Arizona with us now by phone. Good morning Congressman.
David Schweikert: Good morning.
Hill: First, I want to ask you about the president's State of the Union address last night. What did you hear that you liked?
Schweikert: Some of the rhetoric was actually very hopeful, which was nice to have something that was upbeat. I appreciated the discussion of jobs, and that's actually where our economic growth comes from. But I was actually a little sad that much of what was said had very little policy, and therefore was a bit hollow.
Hill: Now, he is going to be in your district later today to talk about jobs. What would you like to hear him talk about on that policy front?
Schweikert: President Obama will be coming through Arizona -- which we appreciate him visiting. He's also going to be visiting a new Intel facility, which I believe has almost $6 billion of capital put in it. But that's a facility that's been in the planning stages for years. And in many ways, they're making those investments despite much of the policy of the last years.
Hill: But are there specific policies you'd like to see to encourage job creation?
Schweikert: One thing I'm very hopeful on -- because I'm finding this also from a number of Democrat House members -- the willingness to discuss rebuilding this tax code. I think there's a common agreement that the tax code has almost too many lobbyist-created provisions, and needs to be broader with fewer carve-outs. And doing that would make it also fairer.
Hill: Now shifting gears away from the State of the Union. Things were pretty contentious in D.C. last year -- a lot of debates came close to actually shutting the government down a few times. Do you think 2012 is going to be another year of the same?
Schweikert: I somewhat do. Understand -- the debt is now the issue that drives everything. That has skyrocketed; it's massive, and it's exploding even more. And with the reality that the baby boom population now is turning 65, we have to step up and deal with these large-scale issues.
And my fear is much of the speech we heard last night is just working around the outside margins, and didn't step up and deal with the 900 pound gorilla in the room, which is entitlements.
Hill: What do you say to voters, though, who are frustrated that things just aren't getting done in Washington right now?
Schweikert: I ask them to call their U.S. Senators. When you consider the House of Representatives have sent almost 30 jobs bills over to the U.S. Senate, and they just languish there. My bill personally went out with a huge bi-partisan vote, and it still languishes in the Senate.
Hill: Before I let you go I want to ask one more question, and that is: Congressman Giffords just resigned her seat. I understand you actually came from that ceremony. What's her departure mean to the people of Arizona?
Schweikert: It's a bit of sadness. But I think there's also the second part, which is joy -- and that is, on how well she's doing. I had the pleasure of walking Gabby down the aisle, and she has that sparkle in her eye, she still has the grin. Her rehabilitation looks like she's doing amazingly well. So it's sort of that mixed blessing of the sadness to lose her, but the joy she's doing so well.
Hill: Representative David Schweikert of Arizona, thanks so much.
Schweikert: And thank you.