Here’s how Montana’s U.S. delegation reacted (through press releases) to President Barack Obama’s first State of the Union address:
Congressman Denny Rehberg: “America must look forward not backward, but we also must remember the lessons of the past. Last year, we saw reckless deficit spending with no tangible benefit to the taxpayers. While unemployment reached double digits, government spending increased 66% – in a single year. Clearly, we can’t spend our way into prosperity.
“Last year, I called for ‘bipartisan restraint.’ We must balance the budget by cutting spending, not raising taxes. Without Congressional action, Americans will face the largest tax increase in our history. It will further harm our economy and cost real jobs. There’s never a good time to raise taxes, but I can’t think of a worse time than now.
“It’s time for Congress to abandon its pursuit of job-killing policies. Whether it’s cap and tax legislation or a government takeover of health care we can’t continue to saddle small businesses with the burden of special interest priorities. It’s time for a real economic stimulus that empowers small businesses and families.
“Finally, we must not turn our back to the real threat of terrorism. Recent events have demonstrated the need to increase our national vigilance in order to protect our lives and our way of life.”
Sen. Max Baucus: Montana’s senior U.S. Senator Max Baucus applauded President Obama for making job creation and health care reform centerpieces of his State of the Union Address. Baucus attended the president’s address to a joint session of Congress earlier this evening.
“I’m glad he talked about the importance of working families. Montana families and seniors need help making ends meet.” Baucus said, “Also, it’s time to renew our commitment to creating millions of good paying jobs. I think the President has got the right ideas and I’m looking forward to working with him to make sure his ideas work for Montana.”
Baucus has been a leader in health care reform, helping to write the Senate bill, which cuts costs and improves care for millions of Americans.
“The President is certainly right about our need for health care reform. Premiums will keep going up and Montana businesses and families will keep paying the price unless we do something. Just like the President, I’m confident we are going to pass this bill and finally reform our system.”
Baucus is chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, which has jurisdiction over several of the priorities Obama set during the speech, including health care reform, tax help for small businesses, investment in national infrastructure and trade exports.
Baucus said all of the president’s priorities will help to put the nation’s economy back on track, and refocus Congress on job creation and bipartisanship.
“I’m glad the president focused on rebuilding our economy, I know he can’t address everything, but I hoped he would spend time talking more about rural economies.”
The State of the Union is a chance for the president to address not just congress, but the American people.
“The State of the Union is a chance for him to speak directly with Montanans and I think he did that well tonight,” Baucus said. “We face a lot of legislative challenges including creating good paying jobs and passing meaningful health care reform. I’m pleased the President wants to work together.”
Sen. Jon Tester: “The jury’s still out on the President’s plans for the coming year. We can agree on the same goal—that our entire focus right now must be on creating jobs, cutting our national debt and making America safer.
“I’ll support a plan if it creates jobs in Montana and if it cuts our national debt. But it also has to work for rural America—for Montana families, veterans, small businesses, and family farms and ranches.
“One thing is clear: To rebuild our economy by creating jobs, Congress has to put partisan politics aside and work together.”
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