Op-Eds

What we did – and didn’t hear – in the President’s State of the Union

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Washington, DC, February 6, 2014 | comments

All too often in State of the Union addresses we hear a political agenda for the party in control of the White House and not much else. In a divided government though, that’s not a blueprint for action, it’s a blueprint for more of the same gridlock in Washington. A “my way or the highway” attitude from the President won’t cut it.

The President called for a “year of action” in his annual address. For this year to be any different – for our country to move forward – we have to be realistic about our divided government. Americans want to know what we can achieve together. Focusing on what shared goals the President and Congress can realistically come together to support in 2014 yields a better chance for moving forward.

With that approach in mind, I was pleased to hear the President talk about how growing manufacturing hubs will mean job creation and workforce development. I was energized by the President’s mention of the bill we introduced with Rep. Joe Kennedy, a Democrat from Massachusetts, to get Americans back to work and make our country more competitive to “make it here and sell it there.” Our Revitalize American Manufacturing and Innovation Act is a top priority in our office and having the President’s pledged support for the bill will help move the bill through Congress.

Hearing the President talk about what a game changer the safe extraction of natural gas can be for our economy was another highlight for Upstate New York. In addition to the jobs, and transportation and infrastructure improvements, natural gas exploration will have a positive impact on American families’ pocketbooks through lower utility costs. Businesses seeing lower utility costs are in a better position to stay here in New York and will be better positioned to expand hiring.

The President made a similar push for natural gas development in last year’s State of the Union and I hope he goes beyond rhetoric this year and puts his words into action for manufacturing, construction and energy jobs.

I was disappointed the President didn’t acknowledge that real problems are impacting workers, families and small businesses today – right now – because of Obamacare. Between the rising premiums, cancelled health insurance policies and cut hours and wages, I was expecting to hear something (anything) from the President on ways to lessen the blow and help families struggling in very real ways under Obamacare. The non-partisan Congressional Budget Office has reported that Obamacare will cost the nation about 2.5 million jobs and found that Obamacare’s negative effects on the economy will be “substantially larger” than what was previously anticipated.

Ignoring the problems won’t make them disappear, it will only exacerbate the ill-effects. Americans fairly deserve the freedom and flexibility to choose an affordable health care plan that best cares for their family. That’s why we should be empowering patients and their doctors to make health care decisions, not insurance companies and Washington bureaucrats.

At the end of the day, Americans need a job and a steady paycheck to support their families – and they are fairly asking their government to help make that possible. Surely we can all agree to come to the table and join forces for this fundamental task. Southern Tier and Finger Lakes families can’t afford another year of more of the same out of Washington. They deserve a government that listens and cares. 

Read the full article in the Daily Messenger here

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