Merkley State of the Union Reaction: “Let’s Seize This Moment for a Bold, Middle-Class Opportunity Agenda”

WASHINGTON – Oregon’s Senator Jeff Merkley released the following statement after President Obama delivered his 2015 State of the Union address:

“The President put his focus squarely on the American middle class tonight, and that’s exactly where our focus should be. Six years after the financial crisis and the Great Recession our economy is improving, but it’s time to set our sights even higher. We need an economy that works for everyone, not just the best-off – the kind of economy that will deliver the opportunity and the middle-out growth Americans are looking for. Let’s seize this moment for a bold, middle-class opportunity agenda.

“I’m especially pleased that the President is encouraging the nation to ‘go big’ on college affordability, with a plan to vastly expand tuition-free community college opportunities. With Americans now owing more than $1 trillion in student debt, this is a huge and growing problem that demands bold and innovative solutions. I fully support investing more in our community colleges, which are among the most cost-effective and powerful tools in our higher education system. In addition, we should look further at how we can make four-year and graduate degrees more affordable.

“We also need to invest more in our infrastructure to create jobs and to make our economy competitive for the long-term, and I’m glad the President focused not just on much-needed road and bridge repairs but also on our ports, our rails, and our broadband access. And I hope that, as he did in his recent infrastructure proposal, he’ll keep focusing as well on water infrastructure. In every corner of Oregon and in every state across the country, we face crumbling water infrastructure that is a danger to families, to businesses, and to our economy. Let’s make smart investments in water infrastructure, such as through the WIFIA (Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act) program for low-cost loans, and create jobs while creating a better future for communities across the nation.”