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Public Statements

Reaction to the State of the Union Address


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Statement of U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley

President Obama is a talented speaker and his White House has proven to be politically skilled. At the start of the President's second term, America needs the White House to set aside its campaign apparatus and take the lead with bipartisan discussions and policy work. People at the grass roots know our country can't afford to have those in charge in Washington continue putting off the hard work.

The biggest challenge facing America since President Obama was elected has been the economy and jobs. By and large, the President's programs have been enacted and in a partisan way. The programs haven't worked, with Americans facing an unemployment rate higher than 7.5 percent through next year. America's credit rating was downgraded for the first time ever. Yet in his Inaugural address three weeks ago, the President barely mentioned the economy and jobs.

Employers need Washington to create an environment for job creation, with tax certainty, regulatory relief, new market opportunities for exports, affordable and secure energy, an education system that works, and fiscal responsibility with public dollars, including an effort to reform entitlement programs. If structural reforms aren't made, we won't be able to keep the promise already made, as the President said, to future generations. Growing deficits and debt are moral issues, too, because if we don't act to curb excessive government spending, our children and grandchildren won't inherit the same opportunities we did to work hard, earn a living, and build a better life.

Americans also need bipartisan leadership on other big issues. Historically, major reforms have been made with broad-based bipartisan backing. That kind of support ought to be the goal for initiatives like immigration reform and other priorities, including gun violence and protecting the 2nd Amendment, transportation, and national and homeland security. In addition, policy changes should be made through elected representatives in Congress, who are the voice of the people in our system of government and can be held accountable more directly than the executive branch of our government. Transparency must be a reality not just rhetoric. Abuse of executive authority jeopardizes the checks and balances fundamental to our democracy and government of, by, and for the people.

Strong leadership takes more than lofty words and goals presented in a speech. It takes the hard work of sitting down with people with different points of view to work through the issues. It takes fighting for ideas and finding consensus. It takes sweating the details. The coming months will show if the President has what it takes to reach across party lines and tackle major issues facing this great nation.

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