WASHINGTON - GOP Rep. Michele Bachmann made the unusual move of offering a different rebuttal to President Obama's State of the Union speech. Bachmann appeared via weblink on a Tea Party website (which CNN carried live) after Wisconsin Congressman Paul Ryan delivered the GOP response.
Bachmann criticized President Obama for a large amount of spending and criticized him for not working to find budget cuts.
"After the $700 billion bailout, the trillion-dollar stimulus and the massive budget bill with over 9,000 earmarks, many of you implored Washington to please stop spending money we don't have," Bachmann said.
"But, instead of cutting, we saw an unprecedented explosion of government spending and debt. It was unlike anything we have seen before."
Bachmann, a possible candidate for the White House in 2012, has repeatedly said the federal government needs to cut spending. She didn't offer specifics during the address but outlined ways that President Obama could help improve the economy like repealing the federal health care law and supporting a balanced budget amendment.
A key question is whether her ideas have as high a likelihood of gaining approval from President Obama and a divided Congress.
You can listen to Bachmann's full speech here: Listen
WASHINGTON - While most of the members of Congress were busy worrying about which member of Congress they planned to sit with, DFL Rep. Tim Walz decided to invite a Republican from his congressional district. Walz invited GOP state Sen. Julie Rosen to attend tonight's State of the Union in an effort to show bipartisanship.
"We represent the same people," Walz said. "I think it's important for us that this isn't, just as the President said, sitting together tonight but an effort to keep working and move forward on that."
Rosen said she felt that there was a firm commitment from both Republicans and Democrats to work together. Something she hopes will also occur on the state level.
"I walked away feeling much better about the cooperation and collaboration and communication that I felt in that room," Rosen said. "Hopefully tomorrow and the next two weeks and two years will show results in that manner."
Rosen's hope could be put to the test later this week. Her committee, the Senate Energy, Utilities and Telecommunications Committee, will vote on a bill that lifts the moratorium on building new nuclear power plants in Minnesota. Walz took the rare move of stepping into state politics by announcing he backed the move.
WASHINGTON - DFL Rep. Keith Ellison says he has mixed feelings about President Obama's State of the Union address and said Obama's move to the middle is dealing with the reality of a mixed government.
After the speech, Ellison told reporters that he's pleased to see Obama is making a commitment to invest in public works projects and end tax breaks for oil companies but is concerned about the level of cuts put on the table.
"He said he's not going to let the cuts fall on the poorest Americans, but you know what?," Ellison said. "We'll see. I'm very concerned about that. Unless we're talking about some real cuts in the military, which he did mention, to his credit, I don't know where he's going to get it from."
Ellison said he thinks President Obama and Congress should look first to making cuts to military programs and projects are considered "outdated" or out of use. Ellison also said he'd like to see Obama address what he called "income inequality" between the nation's wealthiest and poorest citizens.
Ellison, the first Muslim elected to Congress, also praised President Obama for encouraging the nation to embrace many cultures including the Muslim faith.
"He didn't have to say what he said about Muslims being American family but he did," Ellison said. "I can tell you there's a lot of people who really appreciated him saying that..."
WASHINGTON - Here's GOP Rep. John Kline's reaction to President Obama's State of the Union:
Since the President took office two years ago, he and Congressional Democrats have overseen the largest budget deficit in the history of our nation, driving the national debt to a staggering $14 trillion. While the nation suffers from 20 straight months of unemployment above 9 percent, Washington has been on an unsustainable job-killing spending spree. After listening to the President's remarks during his State of the Union address, I hope his actions match the rhetoric we heard tonight.
In the first weeks of the new Congress, House Republicans have demonstrated that they are listening to the American people and leading by example: we have cut our own budgets by 5 percent, repealed ObamaCare, and rolled back non-defense government spending to 2008 levels.
This needs to be a Congress focused on jobs and the economy. One way my Republican colleagues and I have demonstrated our resolve to restore America's fractured fiscal house is by banning earmarks. I was pleased to hear the President is following our lead in putting an end to wasteful pork-barrel projects.
As the Chairman of Education and the Workforce Committee, I am pleased the President highlighted education reform as one of his priorities. As I did last week when Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and I visited Crystal Lake Elementary School in Lakeville, I am continuing to seek input from principals, teachers, parents, and students on what is working - and what is not working - at the school level and whether federal policies are supporting or hindering the work schools across the country are doing to ensure students are prepared to succeed.
Later this year, in its second-largest deployment since World War II, the Minnesota National Guard will send more than 2,400 troops - the famed "Red Bulls" - to the Middle East. As a member of the House Armed Services Committee and a veteran of the Marine Corps, I was pleased to hear the President reiterate his commitment to winning the war against Islamist extremists. Through initiatives like "Beyond the Yellow Ribbon," we must ensure we take care of our sons and daughters in uniform, and their families.
I encourage the Administration and Congressional Democrats to join Republicans in showing we are serious about restoring trust between the American people and those elected to represent them. I encourage Washington to heed the calls of the American people to do what we were sent here to do - provide security and freedom for our country, restore economic certainty, and enable America's job creators to put our nation back to work.
Posted at 7:18 AM on January 26, 2011
by Tom Scheck
Filed under: Daily Digest
President Obama urged the nation to move together or suggested it wouldn't move at all. Those were part of his comments at Tuesday's State of the Union address. He called this the nation's "Sputnik moment."
You can watch the speech here.
The Fact-checker goes through President Obama's speech.
Wisconsin Congressman Paul Ryan offered the traditional GOP response. He urged Obama to join them in cutting spending.
DFL Sen. Amy Klobuchar is making it known at this year's State of the Union that she's reaching out to business leaders. Klobuchar will be on MPR's Morning Edition this morning to discuss her reaction to the State of the Union.
Minnesota's Med Tech companies are hoping for a better 2011.
DFL Sen. Al Franken says he's inspired by Obama's pleas to invest in public works projects to remain competitive but said the job of finding compromise will be difficult. You can see his comments here (with video).
Minnesota's U.S. House members took part in a rare lunch meeting to discuss issues.
Several members of the delegation will attend DFL Sen. Al Franken's hot dish competition today.
DFL Rep. Tim Walz says he hopes the Democrats and Republicans can work together. Here are his thoughts (with video).
Here's GOP Rep. John Kline's reaction. Kline will be on MPR's Morning Edition today to talk about the State of the Union.
GOP Rep. Erik Paulsen speaks out against increased spending but is hopeful about Obama's call for bipartisanship. View his comments here.
DFL Rep. Betty McCollum says she wants to help President Obama succeed (with video).
DFL Rep. Keith Ellison has mixed feelings about the speech. Here's his reaction (with video).
DFL Rep. Collin Peterson said media hype around seating for the State of the Union is "foolish."
GOP Rep. Chip Cravaack spoke out against raising the debt limit during an interview with MPR. He's worried the nation may go the way of Iceland.
The U.S. Senate appears closer to making changes to the nation's filibuster rules.
Check here to see how top Minnesota companies spend on lobbying.
An executive at Chipotle responds to an immigration audit that occurred last week.
Under the Dome
Governor Mark Dayton has a closed door cabinet meeting today.
He's headed to Jackson, MN on Thursday to discuss economic development issues.
Minnesota's Education Commissioner called Minnesota's 4th and 8th grade science proficiency test results shocking.
Hundreds have applied to be on the Metropolitan Council.
Senator says a rejection e-mail to the Minnesota Nurses Association was a mistake. GOP state Sen. Scott Newman's office told the union it wouldn't meet with him because it supported his opponent.
PolyMet hires former MPCA Commissioner Brad Moore as a lobbyist.
GOP Sen. Geoff Michel talks about redistricting.
2012 Race for Congress
Pawlenty for Prez Watch
Tim Pawlenty didn't offer a reaction in written form or through media appearances to President Obama's State of the Union.
He was in New Hampshire on Tuesday signing copies of his book and speaking to a political breakfast. During his speech, Pawlenty said changes need to be made to Social Security.
PoliGraph says Pawlenty's tax claim doesn't tell the whole story.
Bachmann for Prez Watch
Michele Bachmann will attend a Iowa home-school event in March.
WASHINGTON - Former DFL Rep. Jim Oberstar sat down with MPR's Cathy Wurzer this morning to talk about his time in Washington D.C. and his plans now that he's been defeated by GOP Rep. Chip Cravaack.
One item that was discussed was the possibility that he could make a run for his old seat. Wurzer asked the question because a labor newspaper in Duluth reported that Oberstar isn't ruling it out.
"Things have changed and I'm moving in another direction," Oberstar said.
"So that's a no?" Wurzer asked.
"Let's not close any doors," Oberstar replied.
Oberstar emphasized, however that he doesn't see any "such circumstance" that he could run for his old 8th Congressional District seat.
Listen to the full interview here: Listen
WASHINGTON - GOP Rep. John Kline says he didn't see GOP Rep. Michele Bachmann's rebuttal to President Obama's speech last night but downplayed its significance. Bachmann upstaged the GOP response of Wisconsin Congressman Paul Ryan.
Kline, a member of the House GOP leadership team, told MPR's Cathy Wurzer that the GOP response came from Wisconsin Congressman Paul Ryan.
"The Republican response was Paul Ryan," Kline said. "I thought he did a fantastic job.
Mrs. Bachmann, I do understand she had a response, and well probably 4 or 500 of us have responses. I'm talking to you about it right now. I went back to my office after the State of the Union and did interviews last night.
Hers has gotten a lot of attention. I understand that but there was one response. That was Paul Ryan's and I thought he did just a fantastic job of laying out the situation that we're in."
Kline was careful to mention that he doesn't know if there is a split between GOP leadership and members of the Tea Party caucus.
On the issues, Kline repeated his concerns over reauthorizing the federal Race to the Top funding and his plans as chair of the House Education and Workforce Committee.
"I'm supportive of reducing the federal presence from the federal government and fixing No Child Left Behind," Kline said.
It appears that the Obama Administration is trying to work with Kline on education issues. Education Secretary Arne Duncan visited Kline's district last week.
Lois Quam, a former executive with UnitedHealth Group and senior adviser to former First Lady Hillary Clinton's health care task force, has been appointed to lead the President's Global Health Initiative. State Department Spokesman Phillippe Reines confirmed the hire to MPR News this morning. he said more details of the announcement will be released later today.
The hire means Quam will oversee billions of dollars in federal funds that are geared to improve "health outcomes through strengthened health systems - with a particular focus on improving the health of women, newborns and children through programs including infectious disease, nutrition, maternal and child health, and safe water."
The funds are aimed to reduce HIV/AIDS, malaria, TB and other preventable diseases across the world.
Quam and her husband, former DFL state Rep. Matt Entenza, have been close with former President Bill Clinton and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for some time. Quam worked with Clinton in the early nineties and the two have been long time backers of the political campaigns of both Bill and Hillary Clinton.
Here's more information from Secretary of State Hillary Clinton about the Global Health Initiative and how she sees the mission of the agency:
The President's new global health initiative will be a crucial component of American foreign policy and a signature element of smart power. Bringing better health to people around the globe is an avenue to a more secure, stable, and prosperous world. Our investments in programs to combat HIV/AIDS, malaria, TB, and other preventable diseases save millions of lives, reduce maternal and child mortality, and reflect our nation's leadership as a positive force for progress around the world.
With the President's new initiative and expanded focus, we have an opportunity to further leverage our technical knowledge and expertise, build stronger regional and global partnerships, and use our resources to expand the promise of good health that is the foundation of stronger and more stable families, communities, and societies.
I look forward to working with agencies across the government, with Congress, and with the private and non-governmental sectors to lead a coordinated and effective approach to global health that leaves a safer and more stable world for generations to come.
This is the third in a series of fact checks this week reviewing former Gov. Tim Pawlenty's book - Courage to Stand - as he tours the nation promoting it and exploring the possibility of a run for president.
In the book Pawlenty bemoans big spending on President Barack Obama's watch.
"President Obama has overseen the first two budgets with trillion-dollar deficits in American history," he wrote on page 266. "He has racked up more debt than every President from Washington to Reagan combined."
On the surface, Pawlenty's claim is correct. But it implies that Obama is solely responsible for runaway spending. In fact, the deficit had already exceeded $1 trillion before the president took office.
According to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), the deficit was $1.4 trillion in fiscal year 2009 and $1.3 trillion fiscal year 2010 - the first trillion dollar deficits in history, as Pawlenty correctly points out. (Because these figures are not adjusted for inflation, economists tend to compare deficits as percentage of gross domestic product. By that measure, the largest deficit in history occurred in 1943.)
He's also correct that more has been added to the national debt during the Obama administration than "every President from Washington to Reagan combined." When Reagan left office, the national debt was $2.190 trillion, according to CBO. During the first two years of the Obama administration, roughly $3 trillion has been added to the national debt, according to the Treasury Department.
But as is often the case with the federal budget, this story is more complicated than it seems.
Budget crunchers think in terms of fiscal years, which begin on Oct. 1 and end on Sept. 30. So a sizeable chunk of new spending in Obama's first year was the result of big-ticket items passed by a Democratic-controlled Congress and signed by President George W. Bush.
Almost half the spending increase - about $245 billion - stemmed from the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) and payments to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Further, revenue declined 17 percent between fiscal years 2008 and 2009 as a result of the recession. That added to the deficit-- defined as the difference between the money the federal government takes in and the amount of money it spends each year.
In fact, before Obama took office on Jan. 20, 2009, CBO had already estimated that the 2009 deficit would be at least $1.2 trillion.
But Obama isn't off the hook. Another $200 billion was added to the deficit as result of the spending in the stimulus bill, one of Obama's first major legislative efforts.
This PoliGraph test is misleading.
It's true that Obama's first two years in office were marked by trillion dollar deficits and debt. However, it's misleading for Pawlenty to pin blame on Obama when, in fact, Obama inherited big spending increases and massive revenue shortfalls from his predecessor.
The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, Policy Basics: Deficits, Debt, and Interest, accessed Jan. 22, 2010
Bloomberg News, U.S. Deficit for 2009 Totals $1.4 Trillion, Budget Office Says, By Brian Faler and Julianna Goldman, Oct. 8, 2009
The Congressional Budget Office, Monthly Budget Review: Fiscal Year 2009, Nov. 6, 2009
The Congressional Budget Office, Revenues, Outlays, Deficits, Surpluses, and Debt Held by the Public,1970 to 2009, in Billions of Dollars, January 2010
The Congressional Budget Office, Monthly Budget Review: Fiscal Year 2009, Oct. 7, 2009
The Congressional Budget Office, Monthly Budget Review: Fiscal Year 2010, Oct. 7, 2010
The Congressional Budget Office, The Budget and Economic Outlook: Fiscal Years 2009 to 2019, Jan. 7, 2009
The Cato Institute, Don't Blame Obama for Bush's 2009 Deficit, by Daniel J. Mitchell, Nov. 19, 2009
The Treasury Department, The Debt to the Penny and Who Holds It, accessed Jan. 22, 2010
Interview, Alex Conant, spokesman, Gov. Tim Pawlenty, Jan. 20, 2010
Interview, Jim Horney, Director of Federal Fiscal Policy, Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, Jan. 23, 2011
Interview, Daniel Mitchell, Senior Fellow, Cato Institute, Jan. 23, 2010
The Humphrey School