Sen. Carper Reacts to President Obama’s State of the Union Address

WASHINGTON – Tonight, Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.), ranking member of the Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs and a member of the Finance and Environment and Public Works Committees, released the following statement reacting to President Obama’s State of the Union address:

“Tonight, President Obama called much-deserved attention to the great strides forward we’ve made in leading our country out of the Great Recession and into a period of economic recovery and growth. For 58 straight months now, private sector employment has created more than 11 million jobs and, for the past 12 months, that growth has been coupled by the smallest budget deficit since 2007.  

“These numbers are encouraging, but tonight, the president rightly recognized that more work remains to ensure that all Americans enjoy the fruits of our stronger economy. Too many of our neighbors are still unemployed, underemployed or underpaid and I agree with the president that we must do more to tackle these challenges.

“For example, the president smartly emphasized investing in infrastructure as a means of encouraging economic growth. His proposal to lower the cost of borrowing and attract new private capital through Qualified Public Infrastructure Bonds would help spur public and private collaboration on the construction and repair of America’s roads, bridges, rails, airports and water systems. However, such a proposal must be seen as a complement to– not a replacement for — the funding Congress needs to identify to pay for a fully funded six-year transportation plan before the Highway Trust Fund runs out of money in May.

“I was also encouraged by President Obama’s commitment to a fair and free trade agenda, which could open the doors to new and growing international markets for American companies. In Delaware, trade supports 120,000 jobs and billions of dollars in exports to more than 180 countries. Up-to-date and comprehensive trade agreements will not only bolster international commerce, but they will also increase the number of consumers of American – and Delawarean – goods and services.

“Similarly, I welcome the president’s interest in working with Congress to re-examine our outdated tax structure. I share his belief that we can find a common-sense compromise on tax reform and I am hopeful that bipartisan work my colleagues and I are undertaking on the Senate Finance Committee will help that effort.

“I share the president’s continued commitment to reducing emissions and curbing the harmful effects of climate change, specifically sea-level rise and extreme weather events, which pose a particularly serious threat to Delaware. By pursuing a multi-pronged and common sense approach to our nation’s environmental and energy challenges, we can reduce harmful pollutants, lead healthier lives, lower our energy costs, and help put Americans to work.

“While we work to foster a nurturing environment for job growth, I appreciate that the president is determined to protect our economic and national security, especially in cyberspace. For nearly a decade I’ve pushed for bipartisan legislation on data breach prevention and notification, as well as comprehensive cybersecurity legislation. This is an area where Congress and the administration can and should work together to approve this much-needed legislation. 

“Finally, President Obama’s plan to expand college access is a reminder that the skills required to thrive in today’s global economy often require more than a high school diploma. Many states, including Delaware, currently offer incentives for students to attend community college at little to no cost and it makes sense to encourage states to expand the ability of more Americans to learn technical skills or start a college degree program at community colleges across the country. Education is one of the cornerstones of a competitive and versatile workforce, and, like the president, I’m committed to ensuring that more students have affordable, high-quality higher education options.”

“I look forward to working with President Obama and my colleagues in Congress on these and other initiatives over the coming year. I agree with the president’s assessment that the state of our union is much stronger than it was six years ago, but we must stay focused on the work that still lies before us. We have a ripe opportunity to work together to make real progress on our most critical priorities and it is my sincere hope that we seize this opportunity.”