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Skelton responds to President Barack Obama’s State of the Union Address
Skelton responds to President Barack Obama’s State of the Union Address

Congressman Ike Skelton
WASHINGTON, D.C. (Jan. 31, 2010) — Last week, the President delivered his State of the Union Address to a joint session of Congress. I attended this speech, which touched on many of the challenges confronting the American people. I was pleased that much of the address was focused on jobs and families. I hope the Administration is finally acknowledging that creating jobs must take precedent over pushing massive reforms through the House and Senate — reforms that do not have the support of many American people. Missourians with whom I talk are frustrated and even angry with last year’s legislative direction. Sometime over the past year, the White House lost its way. I am hopeful the President’s speech signals a new focus on the needs of everyday people. But, speeches are easy — putting words into real action for the people of this nation is the tough part of governing.

In 2009, Congress laid the foundation needed to get Americans back to work with our economic recovery package, and I am encouraged that President Obama finally seems ready to build upon that foundation. For example, just last Thursday the President released money for a nationwide high speed rail system, $31 million of which are coming to the Show-Me State. Railroad improvements are an investment in the people and economies of our local communities and represent a necessary step toward future development.

More importantly, I was pleased to see the President look beyond federal spending in search of more American jobs. We need to revitalize small businesses, the heart of our economy, through tax credits and hiring incentives. The President must follow through on his promise to create a National Export Initiative, an effort that would help Fourth District farmers and businesses. In addition, a pledge by the federal government to guarantee more small business loans and cut government red tape in processing those loans will be critical to igniting small business job expansion and a national economic rebound.

In doing all of its work, Congress must also confront the long-term fiscal challenges posed by debt and deficits. Last week, the Senate took the first step by passing statutory pay-as-you-go budget rules, legislation the House is set to vote on this week. But Congressional leaders must also commit to slowing the rate of spending on non-defense programs and give serious consideration to the idea of a bipartisan budget commission to help get the nation’s fiscal house in order. Steps like these, although unpopular, must be taken to balance the federal budget.

All of us in Congress must continue our efforts to rebuild the American economy. I hope the President will act on his promises.

Congressman Ike Skelton (D-Mo.) serves as chairman of the House Armed Services Committee. Congressman Skelton’s website is at www.house.gov/skelton.

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