Hastings’ Response to President Obama’s State of the Union Address

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Washington, D.C., January 20, 2015 | comments
Congressman Alcee L. Hastings (D-FL) released the following statement in response to President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address tonight:

“Over the past year, we have seen great restoration of our national economy, which has in turn provided increased opportunity and success for everyday Americans. Indeed, this is the cornerstone of the ‘American Dream,’ but this restoration has not been equitably distributed to those who are most in need. I stand with the President and my Democratic colleagues in believing that this inequality continues to be the most divisive issue of our time.

“I agree with the President that it is well past time for the wealthiest one percent to pay taxes in proportion with what they earn, instead of what their high-priced lawyers and accountants finagle from an outdated and overly complex tax code. The President’s plan, asking to close the ‘trust fund loophole,’ restore the capital gains tax to its Reagan era rate, and require ‘too big to fail’ banks to pay for the risk of bailing them out, are not radical concepts, but merely a return to the policies that made this country more economically equitable in the past.

“I applaud the President's plan to make our tax code fairer for hard working Americans, and agree that incentivizing hard work through targeted tax credits is a positive step in the right direction. We must increase policies that make it easier and financially possible for working families to both earn a living wage, and also care for their children. The President’s push to increase the Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit, along with his call for a “Second Earner Credit” are both positive measures as we work toward a more equitable tax code.

“I also support the President’s call for federal agencies to give their employees up to six weeks paid leave after the birth or adoption of a child – and his desire to see this benefit extended to all American workers. We are stronger as a country and as a community when new parents are able to give their children the care and attention needed in the vital first few weeks of life after birth, without having to worry about losing their paychecks. As a father, I understand the challenges and financial constraints faced by many families. Paid sick and maternity leave will help American families meet those challenges.

“The President has remained committed to providing the greatest opportunity for the middle class to continue to develop through education. His proposal for the “America’s College Promise,” which seeks to make two years of community college free for responsible students, shows this commitment. At the peak of our nation’s growth, we had the most educated workforce in the world. However, other nations have now matched and, in some instances, exceeded our position and it is time that we re-focus our efforts towards providing more knowledge and skills to our citizens to meet the demands of the growing global economy. Over 9 million students and their communities will benefit by saving an estimated $3,800 in tuition per year. We must acknowledge the President’s thoughtful push to educate more, as we continue to develop our nation and maintain its status as the greatest country in the world.

“While much progress has been made at home, our nation continues to face many global challenges. In light of recent online attacks, we must work together to ensure the privacy of all Americans is protected against the backdrop of geo-political threats. Enhanced cyber security for the government and private companies, as well as stronger safeguards against identity theft and improved privacy protection will ensure protection from the security threats that our nation faces.

“Additionally, the recent attacks in Paris serve as reminders that we must remain vigilant in the fight against those who seek to intimidate and impede our pursuit of democracy, human rights and the rule of law around the world. Now more than ever the international community must rededicate its commitment to combating violent extremism, hatred and injustice.

“In this vein, I agree with the President that ISIS not only raises significant political, humanitarian and military concerns across the Middle East, but also poses a direct threat to American interests.  It is our obligation to stand up for individuals committed to defending those values that have made the U.S., and other democratic nations, such vibrant societies.  We must work collaboratively with our the global community to ensure that citizens of the region are able to live with dignity and freedom, while simultaneously making certain that the United States is not drawn into another protracted military endeavor in Iraq or the region. 

“As we rise to meet these global challenges, and as our economy continues to improve, we must ensure that the benefits of this increasing recovery are spread across all of society, and not just to those at the top. As Members of Congress, we were elected by our constituents to work together and bring stability and hope to this nation.  I am determined more than ever to continue this focus on doing that we can for the American people.”

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.

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