Congressman Garamendi’s Reaction to President Obama’s State of the Union Address
WASHINGTON, DC – Congressman John Garamendi (D-Walnut Creek, CA), America’s newest Congressman, today attended his first State of the Union address as a Congressman. Congressman Garamendi’s reaction to the State of the Union address is below:
"Today, President Barack Obama delivered his State of the Union address, and I think it’s important for Congress and the American people to examine the "State of our Union" now compared to when President Obama gave his inaugural address just after he took office last year.
"When President Obama took office, America had just endured the worst year for job loss since 1945, when many jobs were lost following the wind down of World War II. At that time, we were losing an average of 673,000 jobs per month compared to the last quarter of 2009 when the average job loss was 69,333 per month, an improvement of nearly 90 percent.
"The policies pursued by President Obama and Democrats in Congress – in particular the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act – have helped rescue our economy from the Bush recession and put our economy on a path that will once again create jobs and opportunity for America’s middle class.
"To date, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act has infused $154.9 billion in to our economy, creating or saving more than 640,000 jobs. In my home state of California, ARRA has brought more than 110,000 jobs and more than $63 billion in investments and tax incentives, with billions more on the way, including $9.7 billion for education and $7.9 billion for health and human services.
"But with unemployment in my home state still hovering at 12.4 percent and with comprehensive health care reform still in negotiations, our work is far from done. The Senate must pass the Jobs for Main Street Act and Wall Street Reform and Accountability Act, two critically important bills that cleared the House last month. If signed into law, they will create tens of thousands of jobs, provide more relief for homeowners, renters, and small business owners, and stop the predatory practices of Wall Street.
"We also must finish what we started with health care reform. I came to Congress pledging to fix our broken health care system, and I plan on following through. This is both a public health and economic issue. We spend 17 percent of our gross domestic product on health care, far more than any other industrialized nation. And what are we getting for this expense? According to the World Health Organization, the U.S. ranks at the bottom of 19 industrialized nations in the number of common preventable deaths. We can do a lot more while spending a lot less.
"If we pass healthcare reform now, three things will almost immediately happen: patients will not be denied coverage due to pre-existing conditions; adult aged children will be given access to their parents’ insurance until the age of 27; and healthcare will be portable if you lose or change your job. That is real reform right now.
"I will continue to work with my colleagues to fight hard for real health care reform, including a robust public option and generous affordability protections for seniors and the middle class. And let me be clear, I’m not the least bit concerned about using majority rule in the Senate to pass meaningful health care reform. Congress has employed reconciliation to make major policy shifts, including welfare reform and the Bush tax cuts, and the fact of the matter is this country will find itself in serious trouble if we do not act now. No one Senator should feel entitled to veto power over 17 percent of our economy.
"So as we reflect on today’s State of the Union address, let’s remember how far we’ve come after only one year into President Obama’s term and also remember how far we still must go."