As you know, President Obama recently delivered the State of the Union Address. I was honored to share this evening with Nicole and Michael Gross, a Charlotte family affected by the tragic Boston Marathon bombing. I am incredibly impressed by their strength and courage through such troubling times and wish them all the best as they continue to recover and move forward.
As I sat on the House floor for my second State of the Union as a member of Congress, I couldn’t help but reflect on the stories I’ve heard from constituents over the past year — stories that portray the real, gritty state of our union. I thought about a letter I received from a self-employed pastor in Rowan County whose health insurance premium increased by 119 percent because of the president’s harmful health care takeover. I thought about a conversation I had with a single mother in Davidson County who is struggling to make ends meet in our weakening economy. And I thought about a phone call I had from a small business owner in Scotland County who faces frustration and uncertainty due to the Affordable Care Act’s red tape.
Despite the president’s reassurances to the contrary, many Americans are still suffering and our country faces difficult challenges.
Our federal government is saddled under more than $17 trillion of debt. Years of reckless spending have led our country into a dire economic situation, putting the burden on our hard-working families, small businesses and local communities. Millions of Americans are struggling to find a job, while others are desperate to keep the ones they have. The December jobs report confirmed that more than 91 million people are out of work, and the labor force participation rate fell to the lowest level since 1978.
The bottom line is we have a jobs crisis in this country and the president failed to offer detailed plans on how we are going to get people back to work. The American people are desperate for pro-growth policies that encourage private-sector expansion, shrink our bloated bureaucracy, create jobs, and ensure a meaningful livelihood for our hardworking citizens. What we need now, and what we have failed to see year after year, is real action to back up the “job creation” and “year of action” rhetoric. Words are cheap, while the cost of living for millions of workers is not.
Last session, the House passed dozens of pro-growth jobs bills like the SKILLS Act which will modernize workforce development programs and empower our job-seekers, but these bills remain sitting idle in the Senate. The Keystone XL pipeline would create 20,000 jobs and lower energy prices at home, yet the administration has waited for over five years to issue an approval. It’s not fair that Washington’s bureaucrats continue to stand in the way of solutions hard-working Americans so desperately need. My hope is that we can find common ground on these initiatives to expand opportunity and put Americans back to work.