Americans React To State Of The Union
ROBERT SIEGEL, host:
In response to the State of the Union, we always hear from congressmen and commentators. We thought wed also check in with a couple of ordinary Americans weve met on recent assignments to hear what they made of President Obamas speech.
Just last week I was in Chillicothe, Ohio where I met with, among other people, Robert Call, a lead technician at the Kenworth Truck Plant there. Rob Call, what did you make of the speech?
Mr. ROBERT CALL (Lead Technician, Kenworth Truck Plant): I think the president came out with his gloves off last night. I mean, he told the American people what they needed to hear as far as the economy, as far as jobs, what his plan is. It sounds like he has a plan in action. But, you know, its just lip service. Theres a lot of people that are angry and have a lot of cynicism toward Washington right now.
SIEGEL: Yourself included?
Mr. CALL: Myself included, you know. I mean, youre going to give results, you know, and this year will be telling.
SIEGEL: When we spoke last week, you told me that you wanted people in Washington to recognize how vital blue collar workers are to this country. Did you get that sense?
Mr. CALL: I did. I think that President Obama was directing his message toward the middle class people, you know. Hey, Im listening, you know. Im going to do what I can to create jobs, get jobs back in this country, try to revitalize the economy with jobs, you know. And then get the confidence of the people back up to where it used to be in this country, you know, and the leaders.
But the leaders in Washington need to set aside and work together versus groaning about what lobbyists or what special interest group are, you know, that are coming in and trying to change things and water things down. They need to have more concern about the voters who put them in the positions that theyre in.
SIEGEL: At this point, it looks like the presidents health care bill, the Senates health care bill literally is down for the count and may never get off the canvas. Does that make you worried or youre one of those who feels better that that bill is not flying right now?
Mr. CALL: I feel better because I really dont know what all is in the bill. My current health care, I feel, is a good health care. Ive had - both my kids have been in and out of hospital over the past several years and my health care has covered quite a bit. Now, what scares me is the unknown. So, you know, Im more at ease if it dont pass, then what it would if it pass.
SIEGEL: What you have because what you have works and therefore...
Mr. CALL: Yes, it does.
SIEGEL: why change? Why change?
Mr. CALL: No. And my philosophy is if its not broken on my end, dont try to fix it for me.
SIEGEL: Rob Call, thank you very much for talking with us about...
SIEGEL: Youre welcome.
SIEGEL: ...the State of the Union. Robert Call, who is a lead technician at the Kenworth Truck Assembly Plant in Chillicothe, Ohio.
Brian Jolles is an insurance broker in Ellicott City, Maryland. Thats in Howard County where through much of last year, weve gone to hear what people make of the health care initiative. Brian Jolles, what do you think of the State of the Union?
Mr. BRIAN JOLLES (President, Jolles Insurance): You know what, I thought the president did an excellent job overall. I think he definitely accomplished his primary goals of refocusing on getting people back to work and gaining back trust.
SIEGEL: Now, weve been talking about health care over the past year and you were really against idea of a public option at one point. Are you more satisfied thinking that there might not be any big health care bill and that there might be the health care bill thats in the Congress?
Mr. JOLLES: Im more satisfied that there likely wont be the exact bill thats in the Congress currently, that is going to be something different. I never want anyone to think that any American doesnt want health care reform. We all do and so do I. I just think it will take a different shape.
SIEGEL: What about the tone of President Obama and what some have described as a kind of feistiness or taking the gloves off?
Mr. JOLLES: You know, I saw really a little bit of both. I mean, I definitely saw him, you know, turn around and be a little bit humble about the idea of putting something so large as fixing health care reform on his agenda and settling in a year. But at the same time, I think I would have liked to have heard him, you know, be a little bit more explanatory to the American people about making this process of the Democrats, Republicans and make this an American plan, not a Democratic plan.
SIEGEL: Your insurance agency is a small business. There was a lot of talk about small business in that State of the Union speech. As a businessman, did you feel that the president was addressing some of your concerns?
Mr. JOLLES: Absolutely. And I look at my own operation here. Weve got eight employees and it was very heartening to see him focused on small businesses and to know that hes going to introduce tax credits and incentives to, you know, for small business and I think its great.
SIEGEL: Well, Brian, its been good to talk once again. Thanks.
Mr. JOLLES: Okay, thank you so much.
SIEGEL: Thats Brian Jolles, who is the president of Jolles Insurance in Ellicott City, Maryland, giving us his reaction to the State of the Union address. We heard earlier from Rob Call of Chillicothe, Ohio.
MADELEINE BRAND, host:
Its ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News.