“The President’s agenda calls for common-sense investments in our future – investments that will breathe new life into a struggling middle class.”
“But our efforts to restore prosperity will mean little unless Congress acts immediately to deal with arbitrary, across-the-board spending cuts set to take effect next month.”
“Later this week, Democrats will introduce a plan to avert the so-called sequester.”
Washington, D.C. – Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid spoke on the Senate floor today regarding the State of the Union Address. Below are his remarks as prepared for delivery:
Last night President Obama outlined an agenda to strengthen the middle class and expand on our economic progress. And he outlined an agenda that will restore the core value that makes this nation great: fairness. Senate Democrats stand ready to work with the President to make this vision – a vision in which every American shares the prosperity as well as the responsibility – a reality.
The President’s agenda calls for common-sense investments in our future – investments that will breathe new life into a struggling middle class, investments that will make America a magnet for jobs and manufacturing once more, investments that have been deferred for far too long because of the worst recession since the Great Depression.
The President’s plan will give American manufacturers the support they need to thrive, while ending giveaways to companies that ship jobs overseas. His plan will create jobs today building world-class roadways, railways and bridges that our economy can rely on tomorrow. It will prepare current and future workers to compete in a global economy by making K-through-12 schools the best in the world once again and college affordable for every graduate. His plan will break our addiction to foreign oil and encourage investments in renewable energy – a change that will be good for the environment and for the economy. And, as the President said last night, it will do all this without adding a dime to the deficit.
These investments in a strong middle class are not just right for our country; they’re right for our economy as well.
But our efforts to restore prosperity will mean little unless Congress acts immediately to deal with arbitrary, across-the-board spending cuts set to take effect next month. If the looming sequester strikes, 70,000 children would be kicked off Head Start. Ten thousand teacher jobs will be at risk. And the Small Business Administration will be forced to reduce loan guarantees to small businesses by up to $540 million.
Democrats believe we should replace this harsh austerity with a balanced approach that targets wasteful spending and tax loopholes, and asks the wealthiest among us to contribute a little more to reduce the deficit. The American people know we can’t cut our way to prosperity. They agree we cannot ask the middle class to bear the entire burden of deficit reduction.
Later this week, Democrats will introduce a plan to avert the so-called sequester.
Republicans say they agree the deep cuts they voted for would be damaging to our economy and to national security. But they would rather cut Medicare, education and medical research than close a single wasteful tax loophole or ask a single millionaire to contribute more. They should stop protecting millionaires, billionaires and wealthy corporations, and start working with us to pass an alternative to these terrible cuts that protects the middle class.
We must not jeopardize the progress of the last four years. Even though our work to restore economic prosperity is not done, we should take pride in 35 months of private sector growth and 6.1 million new, American jobs. Imagine how many more jobs we could have created with just a little cooperation from our Republican colleagues.
But now our friends across the aisle have another opportunity to engage constructively. They have a second chance to work with Democrats to rebuild the middle class by investing in the things that made America strong in the first place – world-class roads and bridges, peerless schools, industrious factories and creative entrepreneurs.
President Ronald Reagan, in his first address to a Joint Session of Congress, spoke of these building blocks of prosperity. This is what he said: “The substance and prosperity of our nation is built by wages brought home from the factories and the mills, the farms, and the shops. They are the services provided in 10,000 corners of America; the interest on the thrift of our people and the returns for their risk-taking. The production of America is the possession of those who build, serve, create, and produce.”
He did not say the substance of our nation is built on profits gleaned from shipping jobs overseas. He did not say the prosperity of America is the possession of investment banks or wealthy oil companies alone.
Rather, our substance and prosperity are earned in factories and mills, farms and shops. And the rewards belong to all those who build, serve, create and produce – not only to the few strong enough or rich enough to take for themselves.
It’s time to return to those roots. It is time to remember that fairness is not just a principle for which to strive, but a powerful engine of growth and prosperity for all Americans.