Merkley Statement on State of the Union

Washington, DC- Oregon’s Senator Jeff Merkley issued the following statement on President Barack Obama’s third State of the Union address: 

“Tonight, President Obama focused on our most important challenge as a nation: how to make America work for working Americans again.  For the last three and half decades, the wealthy have done very well, while the middle class has flat-lined or worse. I agree with the President that much more needs to be done to help rebuild the American middle class and support our working families. 

“I am heartened that President Obama realizes that more needs to be done to take on the foreclosure meltdown. The last three years have seen modest measures that have failed to stop the massive wave of foreclosures that have overwhelmed many communities.  We must bring the same energy and commitment that was used to save the financial sector in 2008 and 2009 to help stabilize and restore our housing market.  With five to eight million more foreclosures on the horizon, we must do all that we can to keep families in their homes.  It’s the right thing to do for those families and it’s essential for sustained economic recovery.   This recession started with the collapse of the housing market, and until we deal with the foreclosures, underwater mortgages, and falling home values, we won’t get our economy back on track.

“If we’re going to re-make our economy to once again make opportunity and prosperity for middle class families and small businesses the top priority, we have to end the abuses and excesses on Wall Street that caused our economic crisis.  That’s exactly what we aimed to do with the Merkley-Levin provisions to end high-stakes gambling with taxpayer-backed deposits.  I’m glad President Obama reaffirmed his support for this common-sense rule and the other rules of the road that will bring accountability and stability back to our banking system.

“I also appreciate the President’s emphasis on rebuilding our manufacturing base. In the last twenty years we have seen millions of jobs swept away overseas. That is unacceptable. If we don’t build things in America, we won’t have a middle class in America.  Unfair trade practices by China are driving a huge loss of America’s manufacturing jobs, and I applaud the President for committing to ending these practices.

“And I absolutely agree with President Obama that we’re not going to be able to effectively meet these goals if we don’t fix the broken rules in the U.S. Senate.  I have been pushing for reform for over a year, and I will continue to push for reforms so the Senate can do the people’s business.

“Bottom line: we have a choice to make about what kind of country we want to live in.  The President laid out a vision of a country that comes together to tackle big challenges and make sure that our economy works not for the 1% or 10% but for 100% of Americans.   I am proud to fight for that vision, and hope to work together with colleagues from both parties to get things done for the American people.”