What was your reaction to President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address in January? What do you think the take-away message was?
President Obama delivered a State of the Union address with a blueprint for the future of our country that is not Republican or Democrat, but a common sense plan that is simply American. The time for partisan agendas has long ago come and gone, and now these uncertain times call on us all to rise above partisan politics to face the dire issues facing our nation.
As the president delivered his speech in the U.S. Capitol, the unemployment rate continues to hover around double digits in some areas, the housing market continues to operate in disarray and reckless Wall Street investments continue to haunt our financial system and consumer confidence. But this is just the tip of the iceberg. We are also failing to prepare a future workforce that is ready to enter the 21st century economy; our transportation corridors are in desperate need of improvements; and an out of balance tax code is disproportionately benefiting the most fortunate at the expense of those less well off.
As a result, every day we find our country slipping further and further away from the America that built the strongest middle class in the world and laid the foundation for a generation of innovation. As the president noted, we indeed find ourselves in a break-it or make-it moment. We can choose to continue to entrench ourselves in partisan fights, and get nothing done, or we can clear off the partisan line that has divided us and derailed progress. The president laid out this choice and a path forward to securing a strong middle class and reinforcing our American values.
Of particular importance to the Central Coast and California, the president addressed a fundamental problem that has devastated the lives of millions of families and our local economies. California suffers from a foreclosure rate that is twice the national average, and has left families out of their homes and without their life investment. Many of these people played by the rules, followed the advice of their banks, and were led to believe they were doing all the right things. But in turn, their homes were foreclosed and their future left in uncertainty.
In an action that will please millions of families, I applaud the president for directing Attorney General Holder to create a special unit of federal prosecutors to expand investigations into abusive practices by lenders. Since the president’s speech, I am also encouraged that he has announced a plan to reduce monthly mortgage payments for homeowners, which will give many a chance to stay in their homes.
On the critical issue of jobs, I was pleased to hear the president’s agenda to provide American workers with the skills they need to succeed in a 21st century economy, and to stop the practice of rewarding companies that ship jobs overseas. While the president’s actions in the last three years have helped small businesses create 3.2 million jobs and stimulate growth, it is clear more needs to done.
There is no doubt that we will continue to debate the merits and intentions of the president’s plan and vision. But as we do so, it is important we do not lose focus on the real priority—getting our country back on track and working for all Americans.
We have a tough road ahead of us to get there, one in which we must confront questions of fairness and values—and results that will ultimately define the country we leave for our children and grandchildren. Ahead of us are also clear choices—we can continue to wage partisan attacks or we can unite for the common cause of creating a better tomorrow.
In the next few months, I look forward to engaging in debate that bears results and progress. This is the expectation from the American people, and should be the expectation of every single member of congress.