Congressman Rubén Hinojosa released the following statement in anticipation of the State of the Union address tonight by President Barrack Obama.
"Before President Obama took his oath of office, our country was on a course to one of the worst economic times in the history of our great nation. The task to change the downward spiral, though ominous, was accepted and has been led brilliantly by our President. In the past two years, our President and the Democratic led Congress fought hard to turn this ship around and steer it from a pending disaster and into calm and safe waters.
President Obama said that two years later, we are in a different place and we are. We are also in a better position than we were when we were left with the aftermath of the previous Republican administration. We have made big strides in making health care available and affordable for Americans. We have made tremendous gains in making college more accessible and affordable. We continue to stand strong in support of our active duty Military troops, our Veterans and their families.
Our economy, which was in on the brink of a great depression two years ago, is growing again. At last year's State of the Union speech, President Obama promised to create more jobs. And he delivered on that promise. More than one million jobs have been created over the last year. Small businesses, which are the backbone of our nation's economy, are getting the support and tax relief they need to create more jobs and obtain the loans they need at a fair rate. They are growing and prospering.
We must remain competitive in the global arena and the only way we are going to do this is by making investing in our people. Our children, as well as adults, need to have the education and training they deserve and need to compete in this global economy. President Obama said he would like to see our country lead the world in college graduates by the year 2020. The way to accomplish this is by keeping our children from dropping out of school. This is why I will soon re-introduce the "Graduation Promise Act". The investment of our resources in our lowest performing and high-need schools is critical in our goal to keep our students from dropping out of school.
Last year I stood by our President as he signed the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Bill into law. This historic bill represents the best of America. We must offer a better health care for all Americans and we must offer Americans the opportunity to higher education. In education, the new law invests $2.55 Billion in Minority-Serving Institutions, including $1 Billion for Hispanic Serving Institutions (HIS's) like UT-Pan American and Coastal Bend College. It will provide students with the support they need to stay in school and pursue degrees in the STEM fields, Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics.
The reconciliation bill included the Student Aid and Fiscal Responsibility Act (SAFRA) -- the single largest investment in college aid in history. It is changing the way the student loan system functions by originating all new loans through the government's Direct Loan program, but will maintain competition among private lenders and non-profits to provide top-notch customer service for student borrowers and save American jobs. By reforming the federal student loan system, taxpayers will save $68 billion over 11 years while expanding access to an affordable college education to more American students and building a world-class community college system.
Affordable Health Care has come under the fire of Republicans who want to take away our citizen's rights and turn them back over to insurance companies. The bill:
* helps make insurance more affordable for the middle class,
* lowers prescription drug costs for seniors by closing the "donut hole" over time,
* reduces Medicare costs by providing free preventative care to seniors,
* allows children up to 26 years of age to remain on their parent's insurance,
* prevents children from being denied insurance because of pre-existing conditions (this will soon be available to people of all ages),
* gives small business tax credits so they can afford to provide insurance to their employees, and
* it reduces the deficit.
One of the other key issues the President will address is that of infrastructure. I have and will continue to make sure our roads, thoroughfares and expressways are up to standard and are safe. We just opened a new bridge that connects the City of Donna with Rio Bravo, Mexico. We are creating a larger center of trade on the border with Mexico which means we must keep our transportation flowing. While our population in Deep South Texas continues to grow, I will continue working towards making sure our infrastructure is in place to meet the needs of our residents.
I want to also mention that I voted to extend the "Bush Tax Cuts" which began in 2001. There is one simple reason I voted to extend it. It is because it helps ALL American Taxpayers. This helps the low-income, the middle class and the upper class. Every American benefits.
These are reforms that are already making a real difference in people's lives and we should be moving forward looking for ways to build on what we've begun, and not wipe out all of our progress.
The President and many of my colleagues plan to continue on our path to move this country forward. Creating jobs and strengthening our economy is first and foremost on our minds. We will not go back and we will work very hard to keep America strong.