“Although the economy is not back to full strength and there are still too many Americans out of work, we have made solid progress in the last four years.”
“We must build on this progress, fostering a lasting recovery that ensures Americans’ successes are determined by the strength of their will and not the size of their wallet.”
“Senate Democrats will offer our own solution to the sequester later this week.”
Washington, D.C. – Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid spoke on the Senate floor today regarding tonight’s State of the Union Address. Below are his remarks as prepared for delivery:
Four years ago, as newly-elected President Barack Obama prepared to deliver his first address to a Joint Session of Congress, this country was in the midst of a grave crisis. Our economy had been shaken to its core by a financial crisis sparked by Wall Street greed. Millions of Americans had lost their jobs, their homes and their hope.
But President Obama predicted that America would rise to meet the challenges of the day. This is what he said: “We will rebuild, we will recover, and the United States of America will emerge stronger than before. The weight of this crisis will not determine the destiny of this nation.”
Four years later, we can say with certainty that he was right. Over the last 35 months, American businesses have created more than 6.1 million jobs – including more than a million in the manufacturing and auto industries. Although the economy is not back to full strength and there are still too many Americans out of work, we have made solid progress in the last four years. The depth of the crisis did not determine our destiny. Instead our determination drove us to prosper again.
Now we are faced with an opportunity disguised as a challenge: we must build on this progress, fostering a lasting recovery that ensures Americans’ successes are determined by the strength of their will and not the size of their wallet.
Tonight President Obama will chart a course to maintain the economic progress we’ve made and revive a still-struggling middle class. I look forward to hearing his vision.
I expect the President will call for common-sense investments in our future – investments that have been deferred for too long because of economic turmoil. When times are hard, these investments are easy to put off.
But if America hopes to compete in a changing world, we must prepare today’s students for tomorrow’s jobs. We must give small businesses and American manufacturers the support they need to thrive. We must stop relying on foreign oil and start investing in renewable energy that is better for our environment and for our economy. And if we hope to rebuild and maintain a world-class economy, we must build the 21st century infrastructure to support that economy. Renewing these investments is not only the right thing to do for our country; it’s the right thing to do for our economy.
For the last four years, the President has repeatedly reached across the aisle to Republicans, suggesting we find common ground for the sake of the recovery. Tonight will be no different. I expect the President’s proposals will include ideas supported by both Democrats and Republicans. And I hope my Republican colleagues will give his vision the consideration it deserves.
Tonight President Obama will also propose a balanced alternative to the devastating, automatic spending cuts set to take effect next month. Democrats believe we should prevent these harmful, arbitrary cuts – cuts to both the military and to the initiatives that help middle-class families prosper, for which Republicans in both Chambers voted. We could easily avert these job-destroying cuts, which would hinder the economic recovery, by ending wasteful tax breaks for companies that ship jobs overseas.
A balanced approach that pairs sensible spending reductions with modest contributions from the wealthiest among us would prevent the damage of the so-called sequester. I was disappointed to learn yesterday that Republican leaders have no intention of bringing legislation to the floor of the House of Representatives to replace the sequester with a more sensible approach.
Senate Democrats will offer our own solution to the sequester later this week. If Republicans truly agree that these across-the-board cuts would be damaging to our economy and to national security, they should work with us to pass an alternative.
During the first State of the Union address in 1790, the first President of the United States, George Washington, told Congress this: “The welfare of our country is the great object to which our cares and efforts ought to be directed.” As Republicans and Democrats from both Chambers come together tonight to hear the state of this great union, we should all keep those words in mind. Despite our many differences, if we find the will to work together we will have the power to build an economy that works for every American.