FARGO – Members of North Dakota’s congressional delegation have some praises but mostly criticism to offer President Obama‘s 2012 budget proposal, which was sent to Congress on Monday for consideration.
Obama said his proposal includes “tough choices we had to make so we can afford to invest in our future.” Those choices include moves to eliminate wasteful spending, cut unsuccessful programs and scale back even the successful programs in order to reduce the staggering national debt.
At the same time, though, Obama seeks to make good on a State of the Union pledge to revitalize the nation’s infrastructure and education system. For more on the president’s proposal, read this AP story on INFORUM.
North Dakota Democratic Sen. Kent Conrad said he was pleased about parts of Obama’s budget proposal – specifically those that support investment in local flood control projects and military operations.
Of note to North Dakota, Conrad said the president’s proposal includes:
- $12 million for the Fargo-Moorhead diversion project, to help with planning, engineering and design.
- $433,000 for flood studies in the Red River basin
- $10.5 million for continued rehabilitation work on the Garrison Dam.
- $127 million for research and development in wind energy – a resource for which North Dakota ranks high in potential.
- $67.8 million toward three military construction projects at Minot Air Force Base, including a new B-52 maintenance dock, a new conventional munitions maintenance facility and a new dormitory.
But some North Dakota water projects also would see budget cuts, such as the Garrison Diversion. Conrad attributed these cuts to the departure of former Sen. Byron Dorgan, who previously served as chairman of the subcommittee that funded such water projects.
Overall, though, Conrad said America needs a “much more robust package” to reduce the deficit and debt in the long term.
“We need a comprehensive long-term debt reduction plan that includes spending cuts, entitlement changes, and tax reform that simplifies the tax code, lowers rates, and raises more revenue,” Conrad said. “Both sides have to be willing to move off their fixed positions and find common ground.”
Hoeven, who like Berg is a freshman member of Congress this year, agreed Obama’s plan “doesn’t go far enough.”
“The right approach is two-fold,” Hoeven said. “First, we need to come together in a bipartisan way to find savings and reduce overall spending, and second, we need to create a pro-growth approach to our economic policy, which means building the kind of legal, tax and regulatory climate that will encourage American business to grow and create jobs.”
Berg said Obama’s proposal “spends too much, taxes too much, and borrows too much.”
“The President’s budget proposal simply offers more of the same reckless spending that has already driven our country deep into debt,” Berg said. “It’s clear that our government is on an unsustainable path. … Washington needs to listen to the American people and work to cut spending, reform our tax code, and create real solutions to the problems our country faces.”