Following the President's State of the Union address, Rep. Ralph Hall (TX-04) released the following statement:
"Tonight President Obama failed to adequately address the serious issue of our struggling economy and need for job creation. His claim that we are now in a recovery is false, as is clearly evident by the current unemployment rate at 7.9%, the labor force participation rate at 63.6%, and the national debt which now exceeds $16.5 trillion -- $5.8 trillion added under the President's Administration alone.
"The current state of our nation is in large part due to this Administration's failed economic and over-reaching regulatory policies. Increased spending levels and higher taxes are not the answers we need. Big government is not the solution. The President continues to speak about continuing the same policies that have exacerbated the problem rather than offer new proposals. His speech offered no real solution to our immediate need for jobs. Every suggestion he offered involved more government expansion and no new ideas. Four more years of this President's agenda, and we will not only see fewer jobs, but fewer employers to apply to.
"Americans need real solutions for economic recovery. In order for all Americans to thrive, we need jobs. Over 60% of all new jobs in our country are generated by small businesses, which have always been the backbone of our economy. Small businesses play a significant role in job creation and innovation. We must remove unnecessary regulations and open access to capital to provide entrepreneurs the opportunity to expand their businesses, hire new workers, and invest in the future.
"Responsible budget decisions will play a vital role in America's economic recovery. We cannot spend, tax, and borrow our way to success -- the Administration has tried this approach for four years and Americans are the worse for it -- higher unemployment, higher gas prices, and higher health care costs are the result.
"The President spoke of the upcoming budget "sequester' -- a proposal offered by the White House and which they are now shirking ownership. I voted against the "sequester' because I felt that while we must reduce spending, it must be done in a responsible and meaningful way. I have since voted with the House to replace the upcoming sequester with responsible cuts that would protect our veterans and uphold the promise we have made to our seniors.
"We must preserve Medicare for future generations. Unless reforms are made, the federal government will be unable to provide promised benefits for seniors or fund other critical priorities such as our national defense, homeland security, veteran's benefits, and education for our children.
"This already endangered program was further hurt by $500 billion in cuts in President Obama's health care law. I support defunding as much of President Obama's health care law as possible, and I want to ensure Medicare dollars stay in Medicare.
"Reducing government spending is only part of the solution for economic recovery. We must also reform our current tax system - it is bureaucratic, wasteful, and broken, with thousands of pages dedicated to carve-outs and loopholes. Raising taxes for more government spending is not tax reform. I am a co-sponsor of the Fair Tax Act to eliminate the payroll tax and IRS and instead put into place a single, national consumption tax.
"The President also spoke of energy independence, but we must pursue a true, across-the-board energy strategy that expands our infrastructure and increases domestic production, including nuclear and alternative fuels. We have numerous untapped resources in our own backyard that can provide much-needed jobs and more affordable energy, and we must utilize these resources. I hope that the President will begin to work with Republicans to advance the production of petroleum, natural gas, and clean coal at home rather than thwart those efforts through burdensome and costly regulations.
"Today marks the 1,607th day since the Keystone XL Pipeline application was submitted to the State Department. Last year the President denied the Keystone permit, citing that the State Department didn't have sufficient time to make a fair and studied decision. Considering that the permit approval has been pending for over four years, the Administration has had ample time to look into the matter. Even the Governor of Nebraska has withdrawn his objection and now endorses the route. The President needs to approve this Project, which would help create roughly 20,000 new jobs, strengthen America's economy, and improve our domestic energy infrastructure.
"I will continue to promote real solutions that heal our economy and provide jobs for hardworking Americans. Keeping in mind that we all are working towards the same goal -- a positive future for our children and grandchildren, as well as ourselves -- House Republicans stand ready to engage the President in bipartisan negotiations to achieve job cr