Colorado officials respond to Obama’s not-quite State of the Union speech

Members of the Colorado delegation issued the following statements in response to President Barack Obama’s speech before Congress Tuesday night. They’ll be updated in the order they’re received.

So far, we have responses (in this order) from Rep. Jared Polis, Sen. Mark Udall, Reps. John Salazar, Ed Perlmutter, Mike Coffman, GOP state chairman Dick Wadhams, Rep. Betsy Markey, Sen. Michael Bennet and Rep. Doug Lamborn.

Here’s the response from Rep. Jared Polis, a Boulder Democrat:

“Solving the many problems that face our nation — from the mortgage crisis to our nation’s outdated healthcare system — is a daunting task, but the innovation and ingenuity of the American people will see us through.

“As we heard in his speech tonight, President Obama is working to ensure that as we tackle the many challenges that lie ahead, Coloradans will get the most bang for our buck. He also laid out plans to rein in government spending, reduce our ballooning national debt, and ease our financial woes.

In the business world, efficiency and accountability are the keys to success. The same is true for the American government. President Obama’s critical investments in education, healthcare, and renewable energy combined with unprecedented transparency initiatives will make sure that taxpayer dollars are spent wisely, without waste or fraud.

“We have plenty of blame, but too few solutions. President Obama understands this and has already made many tough choices necessary to produce real results. Reducing the budget deficit by half is a good first step. I am confident that under his leadership, we will meet these challenges head-on and restore stability to the American economy.”

Here’s the response of Sen. Mark Udall, a Boulder Democrat:

“Tonight President Obama delivered a sobering and honest assessment of our nation’s economy. These are troubling times, but the President put forth a bold plan for rebuilding our economy and getting our country back on track.

“Part of the strategy is to invest in a new energy economy and an emerging green-collar workforce. That is why it was so good to see Blake Jones, the CEO of Namaste Solar, attending the President’s speech. Blake heads a Boulder-based company that is a clear example of how Colorado is leading the nation in pioneering these new companies and jobs. The President’s economic recovery package makes the largest investment in renewable and efficient energy technologies we have ever seen, and Colorado is in a prime position to receive a significant portion of this funding.

“President Obama also pledged tonight to restore long-term fiscal responsibility to the federal budget. Weighed down by two wars, exploding health care costs and the need for a tax-cut and spending package to avoid a nationwide financial meltdown, we must not lose sight that we are borrowing from future generations. The accounting gimmicks that have been used in the past to mask budget deficits won’t improve our situation. What is needed is a new era of transparency, and I applaud President Obama for leading this effort.

“I also support the President’s call for responsible budgeting by covering the costs for any new programs — the so-called ‘PAYGO’ approach. We have some tough decisions ahead, but President Obama’s pledge to halve the federal deficit by the end of his first term is the right goal. Unlike some, I have always believed that deficits do indeed matter, and our long-term fiscal health requires a strategy for deficit reduction.

“While we focus on our budget and economy at home, we cannot turn away from dangers abroad. The President promised a tough but smart foreign policy approach that will keep America safe, improve our standing with allies and meet the challenges in Afghanistan and Iraq.

“Like President Obama, I am an optimist. Despite these trying times, I am hopeful about the days ahead. The President spoke tonight of the need to change the way Washington works — for Democrats in the majority to be more inclusive and for Republicans to be more constructive — if we are to meet the challenges ahead. I fully agree, and I stand ready to work with the President and with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle, to bridge divides, find common ground, and to move our country forward again.”

Rep. John Salazar, a Manassas Democrat, had this to say:

“As a life-long farmer, business owner and proud member of the Blue Dog Democratic Caucus, I have pledged fiscal responsibility when it comes to the taxpayers’ money and our national budget. In recent days we’ve been forced to take some major actions to address the fiscal crisis we’ve inherited. I don’t take those decisions lightly, but tough times demand action and the people of Colorado wouldn’t allow me to sit on my hands while jobs are being lost,” said Congressman Salazar.

“But those actions are only steps toward our long-term economic health. Good health requires comprehensive long-term treatment. That’s why I support President Obama’s commitment to the reduction of our deficit and increased accountability for government spending. Those are principles that my fellow Blue Dogs have championed for years and I support them now more than ever. Tonight the President had the courage to tell the people the hard truth about the economy. While that may have been a tough pill to swallow, it is the strong medicine we need to heal this economy and it shows his respect for our ability to take it.

“And we can take it. What makes America’s story so powerful and inspiring to the world is our courage in the face of adversity and the way we use our courage and creativity to overcome hard times. I’m proud to stand side-by-side with President Obama tonight and I’m proud to stand with all Americans and with all Coloradoans as we work together to write the next chapter of America’s success story.”

Rep. Diana DeGette, a Denver Democrat, released this statement:

“President Obama put forth a bold and realistic path to fuel our economy for the twenty-first century. On the heels of an historic recovery package that put into motion the immediate steps necessary to revitalize the economy in the short-term, tonight President Obama laid a strong foundation for its long-term stability. The way forward in restoring America’s strengths is to make sustained investments in health care, energy, and education that will lead to the creation of new jobs and new industries that will make us more competitive in the global economy.

“After signing the largest expansion of children’s health care into law, President Obama continues to take swift action to reform our broken health care system. His commitment to affordable health care for all Americans is firm and real; it is a promise that I am confident he will deliver. President Obama’s proposal for comprehensive reform this year not only includes a budget that ensures a system that is both efficient and cost-effective, but also guarantees health care for all.”

While we’re waiting for more responses, let’s take a look at the Facebook posts during the speech from Golden Democrat Rep. Ed Perlmutter:

Ed is in the House chamber listening to President Obama’s address. Tune in to your local news provider to also watch and listen to the President. 7:28pm

Ed I am in the back of the packed House chamber. I saw Captain Sullenberger in Colo this weekend. Now he is in House Gallery. 7:36pm

Ed is in the House Chamber: The President is warning we have to act. He is getting ovations from Democrats and some Republicans. 7:40pm

Ed President Obama is calling for each of us to serve. It’s resonating with Democrats and Republicans, personal and fiscal responsibility are getting applause. 7:57pm

Ed Obama appears confident. He is addressing off balance sheet budgets, Iraq and Afghanistan and is thanking troops for their service. 8:02pm

Ed From the House floor: The stories about the bank president and the girl from SC brought a lot of applause. Obama received a great repection. 8:12pm

Ed from the House floor: Now I am watching the justices leave and am going to say hello to the Vice President. 8:24pm

Below are Perlmutter’s comments on the speech:

“Tonight, the President talked about the tough economic times our country is facing and laid out some of the choices we are going to have to make together to see us through. But, we are a strong nation, and I believe the plans President Obama and his Administration are presenting will help us meet these enormous challenges. There are brighter days ahead for all of us, and I will work hard with my colleagues in Congress to lay the foundation for long-term economic growth in energy, transportation, technology and healthcare.

The American people deserve honesty and solutions, and President Obama’s speech gave us both.

He addressed the skepticism about our economic recovery, and told us how each of us is going to be responsible for making it work. And we will be able to track every dollar that is spent putting this country back to work again at

He addressed the credit crunch and told us how our banks will start lending again to provide auto, college and small business loans.

As the President said, it’s not about the banks, it’s about people. And, the President told us specifically about the housing plan that will help responsible home owners take advantage of lower interest rates and save nearly $2,000 a year on their mortgage. He said he is going to hold banks accountable and warned that we have to act now.

He talked about his budget blueprint to be released on Thursday. I’m hopeful this will be the beginning of saving and investing in future long term sustained economic growth. Specifically when it comes to investing in alternative and renewable sources of energy, President Obama knows we have to support development of the critical infrastructure which will lessen our dependence on foreign oil because we all know it’s good for national security, good for the climate and good for jobs.

Quite simply in this area, we must be the leader in the world. Just like when we committed to landing a man on the moon — the only thing holding us back is our own imagination.

In the last two months, Congress and President Obama have taken unprecedented steps to help keep people in their homes, help them pay for college and help people afford to retire when they want to. In the coming days, I will work with both my Democratic and Republican colleagues in the House Financial Services Committee on regulatory reform issues to help restore confidence in our financial markets, rebuild our infrastructure, recover our prosperity and in the President’s words ‘emerge stronger than before’.”

Rep. Mike Coffman, an Aurora Republican, issued this statement:

“The speech was great and I believe it gave hope to all Americans at a time when confidence is necessary to move our economy forward. I side with many economists who believe that increasing taxes will decrease job creation. I wish the President would have been more aggressive about stopping out-of-control deficit spending. Reducing deficit spending by half in four years is a little bit like having a chronic alcoholic cut their drinking in half. We need a balanced budget as soon as possible.”

He’s not a member of the delegation, but state GOP chairman Dick Wadhams issued this statement about the president’s speech:

“President Obama is to be lauded for expressing his concern about fiscal responsibility but it would be far more credible if his stimulus bill had been more fiscally responsible. It is also very troubling that his plan seems to rely on increasing taxes rather than reducing the cost and size of government. President Obama has also rightfully talked about the need to reform entitlements but he seems to be held captive by his party’s absolute opposition to entitlement reform.”

Rep. Betsy Markey, a Fort Collins Democrat, spoke briefly with reporters on a conference call after the president finished his speech. She introduced her guest, Weld RE-8 school district superintendent Mark Payler of Fort Lupton, who watched the president from the gallery overlooking the speech at Markey’s invitation. She also sent along this statement about the president’s address to Congress:

Tonight, President Obama spoke in plain terms about the challenges we face as a nation. And while we must be honest about those challenges, we must be optimistic that working together we will see them through. In the economic recovery package signed into law last week, we have laid out a comprehensive plan to rebuild, recover, and remake our American economy stronger than it was before.

Creating and saving jobs, cutting taxes, and investing in our infrastructure are only the first steps on the long road to recovery. We need to get serious about cutting our deficit and reducing our debt. It’s time to restore fiscal responsibility to our government. We need to create an environment in which business can grow and thrive again.

We are seizing opportunities to encourage and invest in the New Energy Economy, especially in wind, solar, and agricultural energy technologies which are so crucial to Colorado’s future.

We are investing in programs that help move our country forward, and we are going to cut those programs that don’t. We need to make government work smarter and work more efficiently for all of us, and I am committed to seeing that promise through.

Here’s what Sen. Michael Bennet, a Denver Democrat, said in a statement:

“Tonight, President Obama conveyed a compelling vision for our nation. He was realistic about the problems we face today, but optimistic — as I am — about America’s future.

“America is in the midst of a crisis — but, as the President said, this crisis did not happen overnight. It is the inevitable undoing of decades of irresponsible and unsustainable policies and practices that placed short-term gain above long-term prosperity.

“The current path is unsustainable and the consequences of inaction are unthinkable. Now is the time to chart a new a course for America and set ourselves on the road to recovery and long-term economic revitalization.

“Tonight, President Obama laid out a blueprint for America’s future — a blueprint that will help create jobs, ease the flow of credit, keep American families in their homes, and invest in areas like energy, health care and education that will grow our economy.

“But it is also a blueprint that acknowledges our responsibility to future generations by reigning in runaway spending and crushing public debt. And it recognizes the need for government to spend wisely, not wastefully, and live within its means, just like families and small businesses.

“The problems we confront — in health care, in education, in energy — will not be solved with Republican answers or Democratic answers, but American answers. The challenges we face will not be overcome by engaging in partisan bickering or politics as usual, but pragmatic policymaking that puts the American people first.

“We have a very tough road ahead and our situation will not change overnight. But by banding together and committing ourselves to the difficult task that lies ahead, I’m confident we can get the job done.”

Rep. Doug Lamborn, Republican of Colorado Springs, released these remarks:

“All Americans, myself included, welcome President Obama’s focus on the economy. Unfortunately, the proposals he laid out tonight for helping families and small businesses were very lacking in detail.

“We know the economy will not be cured by simply piling on debt. These massive spending sprees must stop.

“I look forward to having a constructive dialogue between the President and Congress once the generalized intentions are translated into specific proposals. Republicans want to partner with President Obama in promoting fiscally responsible solutions to the challenges facing our nation. However, we must do so in a way that helps future generations, rather than placing overwhelming burdens of debt on them.”

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Ernest Luning

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