Congressman Alcee L. Hastings (D-Miramar) made the following statement in response to President Obama's State of the Union address:
"In the past year, both the nation and the world have seen many changes. We have brought our troops home from Iraq, saw the dismantling of al Qaeda with the death of Osama bin Laden, and the whole world witnessed as many brutal dictators were unseated during the Arab Spring. Unfortunately, this same year brought a multitude of manufactured crises and inaction by House Republicans who failed to address the urgent need for job creation in America. The President is right; the American people can't wait any longer. Enough is enough. We must come together and put the American economy, American jobs, and most importantly, the American people first.
"In order to tackle these challenges, we must ensure that everyone is paying their fair share. No more tax breaks for the wealthiest few while those struggling to make ends meet continue to be demonized and have the programs that provide invaluable services for their well-being slashed. One of the first actions that must be taken by Congress this year is to pass a long-term extension of the payroll tax cut and unemployment assistance. We must provide this much-needed assistance to the middle class and to those who have lost their jobs through no fault of their own so that they, too, can achieve the American dream.
"Not only must we ensure a more fair economy, we must also create a more robust workforce and help those out of jobs to get back to work. As Co-Chairman of the Democratic Caucus' Jobs Task Force and with my home state of Florida continuing to have one of the highest rates of unemployment in the country, I am acutely aware of the need to create jobs and a skilled workforce, and I am dedicated to doing just that. To this end, I agree with the President that the United States must recommit itself to manufacturing. We can't make it in America if we don't have anything that is made in America.
"In addition to increasing domestic manufacturing, we must also invest more in our country's aging infrastructure. For every $1 billion invested in infrastructure construction projects, 18,000 jobs are supported nationwide. And these are jobs and investments in things we all rely on every single day, such as maintaining, repairing, and improving our nation's bridges, roads, schools, and hospitals. I hope that, following on the heels of the compromise to reauthorize the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), a compromise can also be reached to pass a clean, long-term reauthorization for surface transportation programs. We must take immediate action to save and promote jobs and our nation's infrastructure -- the backbone of America.
"While discussing American energy, I must take this opportunity to point out that increasing American domestic oil production is not a sustainable energy policy for the United States. We must invest in clean, renewable energy to truly achieve energy independence. A green energy policy will create long-term jobs and a sustainable future for American energy, the economy, and the environment.
"I believe it is time to shelve the political games and rhetoric that have divided our country over the past several years. We must come together, as one nation, and make America great again."