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ROBERT HARMS: Obama could and should learn much from N.D.

BISMARCK — President Barack Obama’s visit on Friday to North Dakota was welcome. We share the president’s concern about conditions on the reservations, and we hope that his visit with tribal leaders went well and will lead to real progress that will benefit tribal members long into the future.

North Dakota is living proof that that the solution to providing economic opportunity — whether on the reservation or across the nation — isn’t another government program or more stimulus spending. It’s about empowering people and unleashing the private sector and the potential of our entrepreneurs, our industries and our natural resources.

In North Dakota, we have the nation’s lowest unemployment rate, highest per capita income growth, highest wage increases and fastest-growing economy (for four years running). This is no accident; it is happening here because for the past 20 years, our leaders have created an environment that encourages businesses and entrepreneurs and rewards hard work and investment.

Yet the Obama administration has taken a different policy approach that hampers our economic growth. On issues from health care to energy development to agriculture, unprecedented regulatory overreach is holding our country back and limiting opportunity for our citizens.

In spending only a couple of hours here in one location, there are a few things Obama likely missed.

He missed the billions of dollars of private investment that have flowed into North Dakota because of a pro-growth tax policy, a common-sense regulatory approach and a business-friendly climate.

He missed learning how domestic energy development can not only benefit one state, but also create high-paying jobs across an entire region and all sectors of the economy.

He missed the chance to talk with workers who stand to lose their jobs or the families who’ll be paying higher electricity bills because of the Environmental Protection Agency’s misguided new carbon-capture regulations.

He missed seeing the hundreds of trucks that could be taken off our roads daily if only he would approve the Keystone XL Pipeline.

There are lessons to be learned from North Dakota’s successes. We’d like to invite the president back to North Dakota to have a dialogue with us and to learn about the policies that are working here — policies that could serve the whole country.

Harms is chairman of the North Dakota Republican Party.