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Harkin Statement on President Obama’s Third State of the Union Address

January 24, 2012

Harkin Statement on President Obama’s Third State of the Union Address

The state of our union depends on the strength of the middle class

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) today issued the following statement in response to President Obama’s third State of the Union address.  Harkin chairs the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee, as well as the Senate Labor-HHS-Education Appropriations Subcommittee.

“Tonight, it was encouraging to hear the President outline his blueprint for getting our country back on track with policies that invest in America and promote a better, more fair tax structure.  This is a blueprint that will make America strong for the decades to come.

“It is clear from my travel in Iowa and hearings in Washington that there is no greater challenge facing Congress in the year ahead than to protect and restore the middle class, which is being crushed by widespread unemployment, rising income inequality, and a system that no longer works for them.

“As a woman from DeWitt, Iowa told the Committee back in June, ‘All we have ever wanted is security and a little comfort: to know that our bills are paid, our needs are met, that we can have a real getaway every now and then, that our children can pursue higher education without the burden of student loan debt, and that someday we can retire and enjoy our final years together in the way we choose.’  In short, she wants to be part of the working middle class.

“While Congressional Republicans have advocated failed trickle-down economics for the rich, it is time for percolate-up economics for the middle class.  As we say in the Midwest, you don’t fertilize a tree from the top down, you fertilize the roots.

“I have argued that the more urgent task is in creating jobs and rebuilding the middle class.  This means continuing to make investments in areas like education and workforce training as well as securing pensions and ensuring college is affordable.  Our country must rebuild our physical infrastructure to include 21st century transportation and energy systems and we need policies to reverse the long-term decline in manufacturing jobs.  These are the investments that will make America competitive in the global economy with a stronger, educated workforce, and these will be the investments at the heart of legislation I plan to introduce in the coming months to rebuild the middle class.  

“The fact is, the state of our union depends on the strength of the middle class.  The middle class is the backbone of this country, and it is time for Congress to have the backbone to not only defend it, but rebuild it.”

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