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Congresswoman Karen Bass

Representing the 37th District of California

State of the Union Shows Two Years of Progress, but There is Still More to Do

January 28, 2011
Editorial

Tuesday night’s State of the Union address showed just how far we have come since the President’s election in 2008, and how much further we have to go.

While the President touched on a number of topics, the central theme was jobs and continuing our economic recovery. Due to the policies he put in place at the beginning of his presidency, including the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act (a.k.a. the Stimulus Plan), our country has been able to show an upward trend in overall growth and create over 1 million private sector jobs in the last year. Now the President is looking at ways to streamline regulations for business, revamp the corporate tax code, and increase exports. He is looking to make America the world’s greatest place to do business.

As he has done in the past, the President stressed the need to invest in our economic future by investing in education.

Reforming our education system and ensuring that all children have a strong foundation in English, math, and the sciences, has to be one of our top priorities as a nation. If we are serious about growing our economy and securing our economic future, we need to have well educated young people that can fill those jobs that will be the backbone of the global economy.

The President was right when he said that we need to “win the race to educate our kids.” America can no longer afford to be complacent towards improving our education system. In the last 40 years, as America has let our commitment to our children’s education slide, countries like Singapore and China have surged ahead, producing students that outperform American children on almost every level academically.

But it’s not too late to turn the situation around.

President Obama has called this our “Sputnik moment”- the moment when the eyes of the nation are focused on the issue of education reform, and when we have the political will to accomplish it.

The President also offered a passionate defense of his landmark healthcare reform legislation, which the new Republican leadership has already made a show of repealing in the House. This bill remains immensely important because it increases accessibility to health care for all Americans, and it helps to remedy so many of the health disparities that have long plagued our nation. Just as importantly, the increased demand for health care services as a result of the bill will create over 30,000 new jobs right when we need them most. 

This president inherited one of the worst economic climates in modern history, and after two short years he has already put our country firmly on the path to recovery.

And while I am encouraged by our progress, we still have a long way to go.

Unemployment in California still hovers at around 12%, and in some cities and counties it is even higher. We need to make sure that the jobs which are created from ARRA and health care reform will benefit every community, and that we continue to encourage innovation and growth in the private sector.  

The foreclosure crisis has affected communities across California, and many lenders have not followed through on their promises to modify mortgages, despite receiving government bailouts. It is time to investigate why these lenders are defaulting on their commitment to the American people and how we can extend modifications to every American who is eligible.

Despite the difficulties that lay ahead, with this President’s vision and a strong Democratic leadership, I am convinced that we can continue the progress we have made in the last two years and create a thriving America once more.