Congressman Alcee L. Hastings (D-FL) made the following statement in response to President Obama's State of the Union address:
"Our economy is moving in the right direction. We have seen over 30 months of consecutive job growth, the housing market and commercial real estate pick up, and the stock market reach record highs.
"At the heart of our approach to sustain this growth will be investing in the Middle Class and helping the working poor. We must move beyond politics and work with the Obama administration to avoid a dangerous backslide in our nation's economic recovery: the looming fiscal deadlines. I stand behind President Obama's plan on how to both balance the budget in a responsible way, as well as make the investments necessary to create the jobs of the future and compete in the global economy.
"First of all, I agree that the challenges we face must be addressed in a balanced way -- we simply cannot cut our way out of debt and into prosperity. We must first reform our tax code to ensure that big corporations and the wealthiest few are paying their fair share. Furthermore, we must also reevaluate our spending priorities, putting an end to wasteful programs while continuing to strengthen and improve vital ones such as Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid.
"We must also continue to invest in clean, sustainable energy to ensure our nation's energy independence and help address climate change. Today, we import less foreign oil than any time in the last 20 years, and by investing in clean energy we will support and create American jobs, reduce our reliance on foreign oil, and lower the cost of energy for families and businesses.
"Furthermore, affordable education for all must be a top priority. We succeed and grow as a nation when everyone has a fair shot and plays by the same rules. Education has never been more important in expanding opportunity for every American. This is why we must work hard to make sure that we invest in our schools and set higher standards, from Head Start programs to higher education and beyond. We must also provide individuals with the skills and training opportunities necessary to be successful members of our workforce, particularly in the areas of science, technology, engineering, math, and manufacturing.
"Lastly, I support the President in his determination to advance the rights of all Americans. Issues such as immigration, gun control, and election reform must be addressed this Congress. We cannot sit idly by and allow the rights of individuals to be denied by discriminatory laws. Success in these endeavors requires both leadership and cooperation across the aisle."
Congressman Alcee L. Hastings serves as Senior Member of the House Rules Committee, Ranking Democratic Member of the U.S. Helsinki Commission, and Co-Chairman of the Florida Delegation.