“This evening, President Obama spoke directly to the American people about getting our economy back on track. It’s my top priority as well.
“When the President took office last year, we were losing nearly 700,000 jobs a month. Our financial system had been pushed to the brink and we had been saddled with a large and growing deficit from the previous Administration. That was a hard place to start.
“Over this past year, we’ve made progress in stabilizing our financial systems and stemming some of that job loss. But I’m not satisfied. The concern across our state and nation about the pace of our recovery is understandable. I share that concern. I was glad to see that President Obama shares it as well.
“I was pleased to hear the President’s plans for helping small businesses, providing family tax credits and making education a priority in his budget. Investing in education is the key to the long-term strength of our economy and workforce. And while getting our economy moving requires spending on our priorities, we must also reign in waste and tackle our debt. I will be looking closely at the President’s budget when he releases it next week to ensure we can grow our economy without hurting those already struggling in this recession.
“We will all need to tighten our belts as we work to make the right investments in our economy. At the same time, we must ensure that cuts in spending don’t make a difficult time even tougher for families and businesses across the country. I look forward to working with the Administration to move us forward and put more Americans back to work this year.
“We also need to recoup the money owed to taxpayers by big Wall Street banks. It’s time to hold Wall Street accountable, make meaningful regulation reforms and ensure that no bank is too big to fail. I am especially pleased that tonight the President announced that he will make helping smaller community banks a priority. I recently introduced a bill that would work to ensure lending to small businesses and families again—and I am glad to hear the President believes it is critical to our recovery. Getting credit into the hands of those on Main Street is the best way to get our economy moving.
“And like the President, I haven’t given up on improving our health care system. Premiums are still rising. People continue to be denied coverage due to pre-existing conditions. Reimbursement rates for Medicare providers are still too low. And too many people continue to lose their health care when they lose or change their jobs, which drives up premiums for families that do have insurance. If we truly want to ensure the competitiveness of our businesses and economy long-term, we have to get the cost of health care under control.
“Finally, as the President focuses on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, I will make sure he remains dedicated to caring for our military families and veterans. These brave men and women serve and sacrifice for our nation and, no matter what the economic outlook at home, we must keep the promise to care for them and help ensure they, too, have jobs and security when they return home.”