By Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) - 01/24/12 11:00 AM EST
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.
In his inaugural address, President Obama warned of the dangers of not ensuring opportunity for all. “A nation,” he said, “cannot prosper long when it favors only the prosperous. The success of our economy has always depended not just on the size of our Gross Domestic Product but on the reach of our prosperity; on our ability to extend opportunity to every willing heart — not out of charity, but because it is the surest route to our common good.”
The “Blueprint for an America Built to Last” that the president will lay out tonight emphasizes four pillars to support economic revitalization: American manufacturing, American energy, skills for American workers and American values. We will need to tap into all four to bring about the kind of long-term economic growth and job creation we need.
House Democrats have been working on this for months and have proposed a comprehensive plan, called Make it in America, that complements the president’s blueprint. Make it in America is a plan aimed at achieving both short-term goals in support of our recovery and long-term growth to help our businesses and workers compete in the global marketplace. It is the best means to carrying out the president’s blueprint, and it draws on all four pillars.
The Make it in America plan is ambitious and forward-looking. It is based on the idea that America’s best days are still ahead and taps into the entrepreneurial spirit of our nation. It is rooted in the belief that it is among our values, and in our interest, that everyone deserves a fair shot at making it in America.
To do that, our plan focuses on rebuilding and strengthening our manufacturing sector, because manufacturing is critical to our remaining the global leader in invention and innovation. Manufacturing jobs are quality jobs that enable Americans to provide for their families. Make it in America will also bolster the alternative energy industry by supporting innovation and clean-energy technology commercialization. Furthermore, it includes investments in education, job training and basic research to lure businesses back to our shores with the most competitive workforce in the world.
We are hopeful that our Republican colleagues will join us in support of the Make it in America agenda. The president introduced a similar plan last year, the American Jobs Act, and House Republicans refused to act on it. Out-of-work Americans have been waiting for Republicans to propose a jobs plan of their own, but instead they have not done anything to create jobs. At the same time, they have failed to support progress toward getting our fiscal house in order with a comprehensive plan that can enjoy — and to be successful, must have — bipartisan support.
When Obama addresses Congress tonight, I hope Republicans will view this State of the Union address as an opportunity to set aside our differences, find common ground and join with us to meet the challenges we face as a nation together.
Hoyer is House minority whip.