Noem, Johnson tussle over State of Union - before speechNoem anticipated Obama would ‘make the case for raising taxes’; Johnson hammers ‘partisan game-playing.’
By: Denise Ross, The Daily Republic
U.S. Rep. Kristi Noem, R-S.D., took aim at President Barack Obama’s State of the Union speech Tuesday afternoon, hours before the speech was delivered.
In a conference call with reporters, Noem said Obama’s remarks would be “suited for the campaign trail rather than the halls of Congress.”
“That’s unfortunate. People elected us to find solutions, not just to campaign,” she said.
Her call drew a quick rebuke from Sen. Tim Johnson, D-S.D., in the form of an e-mailed press release, although Noem was not named.
“I know that some have already criticized the president for tonight’s speech, despite the fact that they haven’t heard it yet,” Johnson said. “This sort of partisan game-playing should be put aside and members of both parties need to be willing to work with the president to find common ground.”
After her opening statement, Noem talked about her desire to promote local control for schools before turning to what had been widely reported as the central theme of Obama’s speech -- reform of the tax code and the growing gap between the rich and the middle class.
“As a member of the Education and Workforce Committee, I’m committed to returning more power and decision-making back to the local level, to parents, school boards and teachers,” Noem said. “I have heard about the unique needs our school districts have.”
She then took on Obama over spending and deficits.
“(On) spending and deficit reductions, I’m a little more skeptical of the rhetoric I hear from the president,” she said. “President Obama has made promises about cutting spending before. He promised to cut the deficit in half by the end of his first term. Three years and $3 trillion in deficits later, it’s clear that’s a promise the president doesn’t want to keep.”
She repeated statements warning against taxing “job creators” in the midst of a down economy, which have dominated the GOP’s talking points for the last year.
“We do need fundamental tax reform. The tax code is burdensome, it’s full of loopholes and it picks winners and losers,” she said. “We don’t need to tax more, we need to subsidize less.”
She said she expected Obama to talk about “economic fairness” but said he should define the term.
“A lot of times, he wants to raise taxes,” Noem said. “I’m all for fairness, for getting rid of loopholes or exemptions. But raising rates in an economic downturn will not bring us more jobs.”
Johnson described Obama’s upcoming speech as one that would focus on mending the economy.
“The president will lay out an agenda that builds on our economic recovery and strengthens the middle class,” Johnson said. “We simply cannot afford to go back to the days of a boom and bust economy. I anticipate that President Obama will also reiterate his calls for a more fair tax code that works for all Americans and not just the wealthiest among us. At a time of belt tightening and budget cuts, everyone should be doing their fair share.”
Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., did not make a statement in advance of the State of the Union speech.