This week President Obama delivered what is often seen as the most important speech of the year. The State of the Union is delivered to all three branches of assembled government and to millions of Americans at home throughout the country. It is an opportunity to reflect, to cast a vision for the upcoming year and to set a course for the future of the country.

I came away from the State of the Union disappointed in the tone and substance of the President’s remarks and hearing the words of Abraham Lincoln echo through my mind. As portrayed in the recent movie “Lincoln,” the embattled president comments about knowing True North. He says that a compass may point True North, but what good is it if it can’t tell you about the swamps and obstacles along the way? In other words, it’s one thing to know where you’d like to go, it’s quite another to have the wisdom to understand what it takes to get there.

Whether the President knows where he wants to take the country or not, he fails to recognize the obstacles that stand directly in our way. He spoke of wanting new programs and greater federal involvement in nearly every part of our lives, but barely gave mention of the fact that we have a giant swamp called the national debt blocking our path. Understanding the direction is not enough, we need true leadership to navigate the treacherous and winding road that will lead us there.

In a few weeks, across-the-board cuts will begin to take $1.2 trillion out of our national budget. The President says that he wants to find a better way, but has paid no attention to the two pieces of legislation that the House has submitted to responsibly cut spending. Now, after wandering through the partisan forest, the President and Senate Majority leader are attempting, at the last minute, to offer a map that not only tramples any progress we’ve made, but smashes the compass in the process. That’s not leadership, that’s politics.

In order to move ahead in a responsible manner, the President must live up to his words in the State of the Union speech to “set party interests aside.” I, and my colleagues in the House, are ready to once again take up the issue and work to find common ground. In the words of Abraham Lincoln, “You cannot escape the responsibility of tomorrow by evading it today.”

I hope you reach out to my office and share your thoughts with me. I would love to hear from you. Contact information for my South Dakota and Washington, D.C. offices is listed below:

Sioux Falls: 605-275-2868 / Watertown: 605-878-2868 / Aberdeen: 605-262-2862 / Rapid City: 605-791-4673 / Washington, D.C.: 202-225-2801 / Toll-Free: 1-855-225-2801

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