Oklahomans’ reactions mixed

Feb 25, 2009
In The News

WASHINGTON — President Obama’s first speech to a joint session of Congress drew mixed reviews from members of Oklahoma’s congressional delegation Tuesday.

Republican U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe took issue with Obama’s order to close the detention center at Guantanamo Bay, his plans to implement a cap-and-trade system on carbon emissions and his plans for spending.

"The American people will be outraged when they realize that any so-called global warming ‘solutions’ will not have a detectable impact on temperatures but will have very painful and real impacts on their budgets,” Inhofe said.

On the prison at Guantanamo, the senator repeated his concern that closing the facility will result in the risk of releasing terrorists in the United States.

Rep. Dan Boren, the state’s only Democrat in Congress, said he was glad the president addressed the challenges the country faces.

Boren said the most important comment from Obama was his assurance that the country will overcome those challenges and move forward.

"This is temporary, and we’ll rise again as a country,” Boren said.

Republican Rep. John Sullivan called Obama’s pledge to cut the federal budget in half during his first term a "tall order,” especially in light of his signature on what the congressman called the largest spending bill in history.

"Government is growing; agencies are expanding; and new government programs are a dime a dozen as the Democrats focus on spending in the 111th Congress,” Sullivan said.

"There must be a mechanism to take wasteful spending off of the table.”

He also questioned Obama’s energy agenda, warning that it could have a chilling effect on the price Americans pay to heat their homes.

Still, Sullivan said Republicans stand ready to work with the new president to achieve common goals.

"We are a strong nation, filled with resolve, and we will overcome whatever adversity comes our way. That is what America does best,” he said.

Republican Rep. Frank Lucas also focused his comments on spending, which he said "has gotten out of control.”

"Between the economic stimulus plan and the proposed 2009 omnibus appropriations package, Congress will have increased spending 80 percent over last year,” he said.

Lucas said he was encouraged that Obama made it clear that bipartisanship is a priority.

"I understand that compromises will need to be made, but as the president stated yesterday, it cannot be at the cost of our children and grandchildren.”

Republican Rep. Tom Cole said the event was a historic moment for the country.

"I appreciate that the president took time to address the growing financial and economic situations that are facing our country,” Cole said.

He called Obama’s remarks about allowing the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts to expire next year unfortunate.

"Letting those cuts phase out while raising other taxes and pouring more money into expensive government programs is antithetical to the ideals of fiscal responsibility,” Cole said.

Republican Rep. Mary Fallin applauded Obama for focusing on the state of the nation’s economy.

"Americans are understandably worried about the state of the economy and the continuing impact it has on families and businesses” she said.

"I am concerned, however, with the ‘solutions’ this president and his administration continue to offer, mainly a reduction in military spending and an increase in taxes on small businesses. This would weaken our military in a time of war and stifle growth during a period already defined by economic hardship.”

Republican Sen. Tom Coburn and Obama hugged as the president left the chamber after his speech. Coburn’s office did not respond to requests for comment.

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