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Economy remains among chief concerns

For many people, the State of the Union address came down to a single issue -- the economy.

"I need to hear the president lay out a specific plan for what he is going to do to get this economy going again because we have been at a standstill for too long," said Mike Gyles, 44, of Highland Park, prior to President Obama's speech Tuesday night.

Supporters of the president believe Obama is, in fact, delivering on his promise to boost the economy.

U.S. Rep. Mike Doyle, D-Forest Hills, said it is important for the president to "build on the policies he's put in place over the last three years, which halted the 2008 financial crisis, saved the U.S. auto industry, got the economy back on track and created more than 3 million private sector jobs over the last 22 months."

Jim Hogan, 53, of Blawnox thinks the president has done "a bang-up job."

"I'm a big supporter," he said. "If it wasn't for all the obstructionism the president has faced, things would be a lot better."

Detractors, however, think there is little the president could have said last night to change the sentiment among many that the administration's economic policies are not working.

"A lot of people have become desensitized to President Obama's bully pulpit," said Rob Gleason, chairman of the Pennsylvania Republican Party. "He's broken one promise after another -- from his failed stimulus plan and a health care proposal that is becoming a millstone around the necks of business to his inability to do as he said he would and change the culture in Washington."

Mark Price, a labor economist for the Keystone Research Center in Harrisburg, welcomed the fact that the president was expected to talk about the need to bolster the manufacturing sector.

"We've had reasonably good economic growth," Price said. "But it has not been accompanied by a broad-based growth in wages. In other words, not a lot of the results are trickling down. Helping to increase manufacturing is middle-class friendly and enjoys bipartisan support."

Prior to the speech, the White House indicated that its theme would focus on economic fairness.

But Anthony Davies, associate professor of economics at Duquesne University, believes that concept points to a fundamental misunderstanding of how the economy operates.

"It contains the underlying idea that profits are bad and that if people have too much profit, then the government needs to take it and redistribute it so they can level the playing field."

Apple computer founder "Steve Jobs was worth more than $8 billion when he died because we freely gave that money to him in exchange for the products he produced, not because it was taken from someone else and handed over to him," Davies said.

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