State of the Union (January 2012)

Our economic recovery can create opportunities for all

People used to believe that if you worked hard and took responsibility for yourself, you would make it in this country — that you could provide your children with a safe home, an education and opportunities of their own. Yet, today it is harder than ever for families to make ends meet even with two parents working full time. Costs are rising, and incomes for most Americans have not kept pace. 

Success through cooperation

Our country is facing serious challenges that continue to be left unresolved. Stalemates on issues from energy independence to wholesale tax reform to getting our economy on a sound footing threaten to undercut our nation’s strength, yet Congress has been unable to reach a consensus on legislation to move us forward.

Swing voters want to see cooperation

The State of the Union speech in a presidential election year is all politics. In fact, with the president now running campaign ads in eight states and Republicans attacking him full throttle, it is time to offer a little historical perspective on where things might go.

Obama should defend record, talk tax reform

When President Obama steps before a joint session of Congress to deliver his State of the Union speech tonight, he has a real chance to set the tone for his 2012 reelection campaign.  

Congress 2012: It’s time to lead

The second session of the 112th Congress begins at a critical moment in our nation’s history. Nearly two straight years of private-sector job growth is encouraging news, but we still have a great deal of work to do.  We cannot afford an election year of grandstanding and gridlock.  The work ahead of us is far too important. This year in Congress must be defined by courageous acts of bipartisanship that deliver results for the American people.

Small business critical to defense innovation

President Obama’s newly released guidance for our military strategic posture is framed upon the transition from a force capable of large-scale operations in places like Iraq and Afghanistan toward a smaller force that is leaner, agile and poised for quick-response missions. This change presents important challenges and opportunities for America’s military industrial base to consider. 

Don’t delay action on energy issues

As Congress returns and the president prepares to deliver his State of the Union address, many Americans, including members of Congress from both parties, are frustrated about the seemingly endless string of partisan battles over energy policies and projects. 

Time to rebuild the middle class

No greater challenge faces Congress in the year ahead than to restore the middle class, which is being crushed by widespread unemployment, rising income inequality and a sense that the political system is indifferent to its plight. As a young Iowan told my committee last spring: “We hear that corporate welfare continues, and we look across the kitchen table at our families eating ramen noodles for the third time this week. We read that the wealthy get bigger tax breaks in hopes that their money will trickle down to us, then turn the page and read about how our school districts are forced to cut staff — again.”

President must stay the course on our economic values

When the president addresses the economy in the State of the Union, he needs to offer more than optimism, and I think he will. The conservative House majority is going to reject anything he offers sight unseen — that’s no secret — but that’s no reason for the president not to make a strong case to the country that he understands the problem and has a solution mapped out. Major speeches aren’t for negotiating between two positions — they’re for staking out your position. The president needs to take full advantage of the opportunity to get specific and show his grasp of the challenges that still face us.

Holding Obama to his word on energy projects

President Obama’s State of the Union address will undoubtedly focus on the No. 1 concern of most Americans: jobs. Yet in rejecting the Keystone XL oil pipeline, the president has just squandered the best job-creating opportunity he has ever had. Here he had the chance to strengthen energy security, reduce our dependence on foreign oil and create tens of thousands of American jobs. But he said no. Instead, he sided with his extreme left base.