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Noem: Obama's actions will speak louder than words

Rep. Kristi Noem planned to listen to President Obama's State of the Union address respectfully, she said in advance of the speech.

But she said during an afternoon teleconference Tuesday with South Dakota journalists that she would judge the success of Obama's speech by the actions he takes after he stops talking.

Noem said she would be "very respectful of the president" while still disagreeing with him on many issues. It was to be her first State of the Union as a member of Congress, and she said Obama's talents as a speaker will be on full display.

"He will give good presentation," said Noem, a Republican. "He knows how to connect with people. After the speech, the real test will come."

She said reports that Obama would use the word "investment" throughout the speech seemed to be shorthand for higher taxes and increased spending, and that means more borrowing, in her view.

"That's not the way to create jobs," Noem said. "Tonight we should focus on jobs and our economy."

She said the way to revive the economy was to count on the private sector, not the federal government, to create jobs and bolster companies. "I think government needs to stop investing," she said.

Noem said the federal government needs to get spending "back to pre-stimulus levels."

The House voted 256-165 Tuesday in favor of a non-binding resolution that empowers House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wis., to set a ceiling on discretionary spending outside of so-called security programs for the rest of the 2011 fiscal year. A government fiscal year runs Oct. 1-Sept. 30.

The vote was mostly along party lines, with 239 Republicans joined by 17 Democrats.

"Passing this measure puts us on the course to cutting spending as we pledged to do," Noem said.

In remarks he released in advance of the State of the Union, Sen. Tim Johnson, D-S.D., said he expected Obama to address the needs of South Dakota families and those across rural America.

"Our nation is continuing to recover from the worst recession since the Great Depression," Johnson said. "We've made progress in turning our economy around, with more than a million private-sector jobs created last year."

Johnson agreed with Noem about the need to closely study spending choices but also said that "not all government spending is bad" when it benefits people.

"We need a budget that is mindful of our deficit but does not devastate future growth, like safe roads and drinking water," he said. "However, we must bring our budget under control. I hope the president will present a balanced approached to addressing our deficit while spurring job growth."

Johnson said shows of bipartisanship, such as having Democrats and Republicans sit together, have their place, but he hopes real steps are made to solving problems.

"I hope that Republicans and Democrats put aside party politics and work with President Obama to address the issues facing our nation," he said. "I hope that we can find a bipartisan approach that provides certainty for homeowners, consumers, investors and small businesses to help our economy grow."

Noem echoed that sentiment.

"I think it's a great idea," she said of the seating plan, and said she planned to sit by Rep. Dan Boren, D-Okla., although she had heard reports it was "very chaotic" on the House floor before the speech.

She said while bipartisanship was in the air, clear differences remain between the two parties.

"Anytime you talk about money and putting together budgets you're going to see differences," Noem said.

However, she said there are opportunities for real change in education, improvements with the next farm bill and new paths in transportation funding.

Johnson and Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., plan to hold teleconferences with reporters Wednesday.