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Barack and a Hard Place

Two very different Texans in the U.S. House of Representatives — Lloyd Doggett, D-Austin, and John Carter, R-Round Rock — respond to the president's State of the Union address.

Rep. Lamar Smith, Rep. Lloyd Doggett, Rep. John Carter and Rep. Michael McCaul at groundbreaking for the new Austin United States Federal Courthouse.

Last night, President Barack Obama delivered his first State of the Union address. Because Texas is still a state in that union — sorry, secessionists — its U.S. House members were in attendance. Among them were Lloyd Doggett, D-Austin, and John Carter, R-Round Rock, who listened to the same speech but, in interviews with the Tribune, came away with markedly different impressions. (You can listen to the full audio of their responses in the right-hand coluimn.)

It wasn't the predictible love from the left and ridicule from the right. "He's a good speaker," Carter said of Obama. "He's artful at it." Carter even admitted to laughing at some of the president's jokes, though it will take more than humor to win him over. "I want success in this country," Carter said. "I would really, truly want to see him be serious about letting Republicans be involved in these health care decisions."

Doggett was pleased with the speech overall but says he may not agree with all of Obama's proposals. "I think this job tax credit, for example, sounds very good," he said, "but I have yet to see a version of it in the discussions we've had in our committees that will really be effective and efficient in creating new jobs." While he was happy to see Obama's emphasis on renewable energy, he was less enthusiastic about the way cap-and-trade legislation was addressed. "The bill the House has passed is so weak, and the Senate seems destined to make it only weaker," he said. "I'd like to see some progress in the green energy area, but not necessarily the rush through some weak cap-and-trade bill."

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Health care Department of State Health Services Federal health reform John R. Carter Lloyd Doggett