Following Wednesday's night State of the Union speech by President Barack Obama, members of the Idaho Congressional delegation responded to the address.
Here are their responses:
Congressman Walt Minnick, Democrat: “It was good to hear the president make clear that he hears the anger and frustration of so many Idahoans about the state of our country and our economy. Like the president and most Americans, I believe that it’s time to end a culture where every day is Election Day, and instead begin working together in a bipartisan fashion to address the grave challenges facing our nation.
“I applaud his order to implement a commission on entitlement reform. I agree that earmark reform is a critical step to show we are serious about fiscal responsibility. And I strongly support implementation of “pay as you go” rules to make sure we stop spending money we do not have. I also believe that our nation’s security will continue to be jeopardized if we do not address the shocking federal debt. The spending freeze is a proposal worth considering, but we must be prepared to be bold and do more to address the poor health of our nation’s finances.
“I was pleased to hear suggestions for things very important to me and to Idaho: increased agricultural exports, tax credits for small business, support for community banks and measures to help people attend college. I agree with the president – no one should go broke because they choose to go to college.
“I look forward to working with the president and with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to address these issues, and to continue the process of restoring and renewing America.”
Congressman Mike Simpson, Republican: “Getting our out-of-control budget deficit under control must be our top priority, and it will require all Americans to participate. Rather than criticizes the President’s proposal to freeze discretionary spending, I consider it an initial offer to Congress in what I hope will be a bipartisan dialogue that leads to real action. I fully expect the counter offer made by House Republicans to bring more robust ideas to the table as well, and I hope these include freezing discretionary spending across the board at fiscal year 2009 levels and doing away with the irresponsible spending increases in the current year’s budget. We should commit to staying on budget, just like any American family has to do, by doing away with off-budget, so-called ‘emergency’ measures and taking an up-or-down vote in the next two months on a constitutional amendment that requires Congress to balance the budget each year."
Senator Jim Risch, Republican: “Tonight’s speech was similar to last year, and the specifics, again, were vague. One year ago, the president spoke of fiscal responsibility, a revived economy and, most importantly, new jobs. What we ended up with was a back-breaking deficit, a continuation of frozen credit markets and higher unemployment.
“His plan for a temporary freeze on a small part of a bloated budget, just months after a double-digit percentage increase, will accomplish little, if anything.
“I was stunned by his continued push to enact a tax-increasing, premium-increasing and Medicare-reducing health care bill that the vast majority of Americans said they don’t want. I really thought after last week’s election in the most liberal state in America he would get it. He doesn’t.”
Senator Mike Crapo, Republican: “The President outlined some of the most pressing issues that are facing our nation at this time—the economy, federal debt, financial reform, education and energy. Now we all need to work hard to find common ground and build common sense solutions.
“With so many challenges facing our nation, we must prioritize reducing the federal debt, improving the economy and jobs and ensuring that Americans do not face increasing taxes. Our ballooning federal debt will leave future generations saddled with costs that they cannot bear; we are jeopardizing their futures. We need to keep taxes low and develop policies that encourage job growth. We must end the federal government spending spree and find the best ways to put Americans back to work.
“I stand willing to working with the President and my colleagues in Congress on these issues that matter so much to Idahoans and the nation. As a member of the Senate Budget Committee, which is tasked with looking in depth at the proposals put forward tonight, it is important to recognize that we cannot spend our way out of economic difficulties or print our way out of ever-increasing federal deficits. We face many, many challenges as a nation, and despite political differences, it is imperative that we work together and find ways to compromise and cooperate with each other with the benefit of the nation.”
Hulu is hosting the State of the Union and the Republican Response by Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell.