WASHINGTON – Before a special joint session of a bitterly divided Congress, President Obama laid out his agenda for creating jobs and reducing unemployment through a $450 billion package of targeted tax cuts and infrastructure investments.
Lawmakers’ reception to the plan was partisan, albeit somewhat more cordial than last month’s legislative food fight over raising the debt ceiling.
Here are the responses from Minnesota lawmakers to the plan:
Rep. Michele Bachmann – Rep. Michele Bachmann did not arrive back in time to be present for the speech. Her staff said torrential rainfall in the Washington area delayed her flight from the West Coast, where she attended a GOP presidential debate yesterday. She did arrive in time to hold a press conference after the speech to offer a rebuttal, something the Republican leadership declined to do.
Before a small group of reporters, she said, “While the President’s speech comes on the heels of a trillion dollars of failed stimulus, bailouts, and temporary gimmicks aimed at creating jobs, the President continued to cling to the idea that government is the solution to creating jobs.”
Rep. Chip Cravaack – None of the four reporters for Minnesota-based outlets who were in the House chamber spotted the freshman Republican. Cravaack’s spokesman, Michael Bars, via email said “Rep. Cravaack was huddling with his team listening carefully to the President’s speech.”
Bars emailed a short statement about the speech, writing, “Rep. Cravaack will examine all pro-growth proposals that mitigate excessive, job-destroying regulations that saddle small businesses and job creators.”
Rep. Keith Ellison - “I like most of what I heard, and I’m ready to vote for the American Jobs Act,” Ellison told reporters immediately after the speech. When asked whether he thought a bill could be moved through Congress, Ellison said, “There was stuff in there Republicans clapped for.”
Sen. Al Franken – “Our top priority must be getting people back to work. The President presented a smart plan that will create needed American jobs and won’t add a dime to the deficit. This plan will benefit Minnesota, and Congress needs to act on it quickly. This package would put lots of Minnesotans back to work, including teachers, first responders, and construction workers, and put more money in the pockets of our state’s working families,” according to a statement released by the DFL senator’s office.
Rep. John Kline – “I was pleased to hear the President heed the call of Americans by expressing a desire to work together to promote long term economic growth,” the Republican lawmaker said in a statement. “Unfortunately, his call for more stimulus-type measures ignores the reality that people – not government – are our nation’s true job creators. The private sector doesn’t need Washington to tell them how to create jobs; they need Washington to get out of their way.”
Sen. Amy Klobuchar – “I thought it was incredibly realistic that he tied it to having to be paid for,” said Klobuchar, a DFLer, referring to the President’s proposal that the costs of his new stimulus program be offset with additional deficit savings by the special bipartisan, bicameral “Super Commission” that’s meeting this fall. “If it’s not paid for, it’s not going to get done,” Klobuchar told reporters.
Rep. Betty McCollum – “For the past eight months, the world has witnessed an out-of-control Tea Party majority in Congress, harming our economy and stalling job growth with their posturing and political games,” said McCollum, a liberal DFL member from St. Paul, in a written statement. “The American people want jobs, not dangerous and harmful Tea Party schemes to protect polluters, bust unions, eliminate Medicare, and outsource more jobs.”
Rep. Erik Paulsen – “Neither party can escape blame for our nation’s economic turmoil. Republicans during the Bush years made mistakes, spending lots of money the country didn’t have. But a few of my colleagues and I want to reform Washington’s reckless, unsustainable ways,” the Republican said in a written statement. “I’m always willing to work across the aisle on good ideas to revive the economy. Unfortunately, the President’s remarks tonight were more of a rehash of previously failed policies. He and we can do better.”
Rep. Collin Peterson – The DFL Congressman’s office did not issue a statement on the speech.
Rep. Tim Walz – Asked about the deep political divisions in Congress, the Mankato DFLer said, “We’re going to have to overcome it. The bottom line is the President was very conciliatory, he brought up big issues like Medicare reform and was willing to go there. I’m optimistic about it. I heard it in August, the American people want action, they’re not concerned with the political divide other than getting it fixed.”