North Dakota delegation reacts to Obama’s 2nd SOTU

FARGO – Following President Barack Obama‘s second State of the Union address tonight, members of North Dakota’s congressional delegation were among those to share their impressions of the speech.

The theme of innovation and progress resonated throughout Obama’s message, as he covered more than a dozen topics – including: congressional bipartisanship; the economy; energy; education; illegal immigration; infrastructure redevelopment; reforms to health care and the tax code; the military and foreign affairs; and federal spending, regulations and government re-organization.

Obama delivered a call-to-arms in his one-hour address, challenging Congress to make “hard choices” when necessary and seek to attain a number of goals Obama outlined to advance America in multiple ways.

Here’s what North Dakota’s representatives thought of his address:

Sen. Kent Conrad (D)

Kent Conrad

“I was pleased with President Obama’s emphasis on returning civility to our political discourse and his call for working in a bipartisan fashion.  The President was also right to call for a bipartisan solution to the nation’s long-term debt crisis.  Democrats and Republicans must find a way to come together on this critical challenge.

“Now it is time to move beyond words.  It is time for action.  We need to reach agreement on a bipartisan long-term deficit and debt reduction plan.  We must structure the plan so that it kicks in after the economy is on a stronger footing.  But we cannot delay moving forward.  We need to enact a plan this year.

“The President can’t do this alone.  House Republicans have to be willing to come to the table.  And focusing only on cutting non-defense discretionary spending isn’t enough.  The resulting cuts would do too much damage to the economy and would be too draconian to be sustainable.  A balanced plan has to also include entitlement reform and tax reform that simplifies the tax code, lowers rates, and raises revenue.”

Sen. John Hoeven (R)

John Hoeven

“Job creation needs to be job number one. We need to create the kind of business environment that will empower small businesses to grow the economy and create jobs to get the 15 million men and women who are unemployed in this country back to work. At the same time, we have to not only hold the line on spending, as the President proposed, but find savings and reduce the debt and deficit.

“We need to create a pro-business environment, the kind of legal, tax and regulatory climate that empowers people and small businesses across this country to create jobs and get our economy going. A good example is energy. We need a comprehensive energy policy that promotes all of our energy resources in tandem, both renewable and traditional, like we’ve done in North Dakota.

“He sounded some of these themes, but we look forward to seeing more specifics. We need an approach from government that is accountable, and one that empowers the private sector growth we need while getting control over spending to balance our budget.”

Rep. Rick Berg (R)

Rick Berg

“I am encouraged that the President addressed the need to control government spending, but there’s still a lot of work ahead of us if we are serious about listening to the American people and reigning in the federal government.

Over the past two years, we have seen government grow by 25%, creating record deficits and debt.  After that kind of growth, it will take more than simply freezing government spending to get our country back on track.  Small businesses continue to face uncertainty, and it’s critical that Congress works toward stable taxes and stable regulation so that these businesses are able to create the jobs that Americans need.

Our top priorities must be renewing our national economy, reducing government spending, and getting our deficit under control, and I hope that the President is willing to work with the House to accomplish these goals.”

Each of the members’ statements reflects his own platform – almost reminiscent of a stump speech on the campaign trail. For Conrad, it’s reducing the deficit; with Hoeven, it’s creating jobs; and for Berg, it’s empowering small businesses.

What did you think of the speech? Sound off below.

In case you missed the address, check out the coverage on INFORUM and in Wednesday’s edition of The Forum. Or, you can watch it here:

And don’t forget, if you have questions about the address, the White House is offering various opportunities for citizens to do so this week.