Rep. Emmanuel Cleaver II, the chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus, released the following statement in reaction to President Obama's State of the Union Address.
I agree with President Barack Obama. We stand at a critical moment in American history. We can choose to uplift a small segment of our population or we can work together to improve the lives of all Americans. As our nation’s economy slowly rebounds, the African American community experiences disproportionately higher rates of unemployment, home foreclosure, educational and healthcare disparities, as well as economic hardship. As a result, vulnerable communities increasingly rely on public programs to meet their basic needs, but these are the very same programs the Republican Leadership has continued to attack. I along with President Obama believe that we all deserve a fair chance, access to jobs, good education, fair taxes and an opportunity to achieve the American dream, but every American does not have access to these kinds of opportunities.
Recklessly eliminating vital programs like job training, education, and health care for millions of hardworking American families is not a roadmap to getting our economy back on track. It is a road map to permanently damaging the future wellbeing of our great nation. Tonight, President Obama laid out a clear blueprint to continue rebuilding our economy through American manufacturing, American energy, skills for American workers, and a renewal of American values that will strengthen our nation’s fragile economy, not just for our children’s children, but for generations to come. I commend the President for recognizing the millions of Americans who work hard and play by the rules everyday and for further recognizing that they deserve a government and economy that do the same. It is high time that we all pay our fair. It is also time that we stop with the obsessive compulsive worry that another American is trying to take what we have earned. We are in this together and if we, as a country, do not realize that fact very soon we are headed for a rude awakening.
The Republican Leadership refused to take any real action on jobs for the duration of the first session the 112th Congress, despite our many efforts from the ‘For the People’ Jobs Initiative, including our over fifty pieces of jobs legislation offered by Members of the Congressional Black Caucus and nine job creation recommendations. More recently, they have rejected the American Jobs Act, which would provide opportunities for hard working American families. By denying the American people opportunities we are denying ourselves full economic recovery. The American Jobs Act is not a hand out, it is a hand up out of poverty, out of debt, out of foreclosure and most importantly, out of hopelessness. We cannot ignore the fact that those in our most vulnerable communities continue to suffer. Their sufferings are our own. It is a new year, which creates a new opportunity to do the right thing.
The CBC also remains committed to working with President Obama to responsibly reduce the deficit, while safeguarding the progress that we have made in the job market by investing in our future. Investing in our communities goes hand in hand with full economic recovery. No investment, no recovery. It is time to put politics aside and make the promise of the America the practice.