WASHINGTON, D.C. — Here’s reaction and analysis of President Obama’s speech last night from each member of Minnesota’s Congressional delegation:
Democrat Sen. Amy Klobuchar said that Obama’s emphasis on responsibility was refreshing. “I thought it was incredibly well done,” said Klobuchar. “He really laid out the sobering situation we are in and he explained it to people, but most importantly he explained how we are going to get out of it… he did it in an uplifting way. If there was any theme it was that we are not quitters.”
And about Obama’s shout-out to Minneapolis when he mentioned that 57 of the police department’s officers were still working because of the stimulus: “I was excited. I worked very hard on that police funding,” said Klobuchar. “It was very exciting that he mentioned Minnesota.”
Democrat Tim Walz (1st District) said that he found Obama’s references to education reform encouraging. He said that the speech was “exactly the message that we needed to hear.”
“That we have work to do was very clear,” said Walz. “The details aren’t fleshed out yet, but that is the job of the members of Congress.”
Republican John Kline (2nd District) said that he had “grave concerns” about any approach to the economy that relies on raising taxes on businesses, but that he was looking forward to receiving the president’s budget.
“I am encouraged by President Obama’s overtures toward bipartisan cooperation,” said Kline. “But actions must speak louder than words. Unfortunately, what we have seen so far this year from Congressional leadership is ineffective legislation that favors the creation of new government programs over new jobs.”
Republican Erik Paulsen (3rd District) said it was a good speech. “I think he gets tremendous credit for wanting to tackle health care, the energy issue and long-term solutions rather than short term fixes,” said Paulsen.
“What I am concerned about is driving up the deficit in the short term and in the long term… That’s my concern,” he said. “So the devil’s in the details, but I think it is going to be good to work with him on those issues.”
Democrat Betty McCollum (4th District) said that Obama laid out some really solid goals for Congress to work toward. “He really challenged us to take action,” said McCollum.
“His tone was one of leadership,” she said. “We are facing some really major challenges in this county, but it is nothing that we can’t come together on.”
Democrat Keith Ellison (5th District) said that he thought it was a bold and phenomenal speech. “I am really excited about what he laid out for us,” Ellison said. “He’s a great orator and he set out a bold vision — energy, healthcare, and education — three fundamentals.”
But, Ellison said, “It wasn’t all about what the government has to do, it’s what people need to do, too… It is feasible if we take up the challenge he asked average Americans and Congress to step up to.”
And, the Minneapolis shout-out? “Brilliant,” said Ellison.
Republican Michele Bachmann (6th District) said that while Obama talked at length about his desire to be fiscally responsible and that she appreciated the president’s efforts to include Republicans at Monday’s Fiscal Responsibility Summit, Washington had still “failed to deliver on its promises to provide fiscally responsible solutions to our nation’s economic crisis.”
“Usually, they say that talk is cheap; but this time D.C. talk is costing taxpayers hundreds of billions, even trillions of dollars,” Bachmann said.
Democrat Collin Peterson (7th District) said that the speech and Obama’s emphasis on health care and education was what he had expected the president to talk about.
“There is a lot of work to do,” said Peterson. “But, he set a good tone… I think he covered the things that people are concerned about.”
Democrat Jim Oberstar (8th District) said that Obama’s speech “provided the third leg of this important stool and that is confidence in the future.”
“He’s not had much of an upbeat tone in his conversation with the public and the Congress about the future of our economy,” Oberstar said. “Tonight he offered that optimism. This is what Franklin Roosevelt did with such great success in the depths of the depression. These are the problems we face, this is what we are doing to correct the problems, and America will emerge stronger, more resilient, better for the future. And that is the message the country needed.”
Cynthia Dizikes covers Minnesota’s congressional delegation and reports on issues and developments in Washington, D.C. She can be reached at cdizikes[at]minnpost[dot]com.