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U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords' Statement On President Obama's First State Of The Union Speech

Press Release

Date: Jan. 27, 2010
Location: Washington, DC

U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords today released the following statement on President Obama's first State of the Union speech. Giffords attended the nationally televised address with Dr. Jeffrey Britt, the head of the Tucson-based company Global Solar. The firm manufactures highly-efficient thin film solar cells and employs about 120 people.

It is very encouraging that the centerpiece of President Obama's first State of the Union speech was the emphasis he placed on job creation. I applaud the president for calling on Congress to pass legislation to jumpstart private sector job creation with investments in small businesses, investments in green jobs and clean energy and policies to spur more exports of American-manufactured products.

We must move aggressively to answer the demands of Arizonans and all Americans to restore security for middle class families after a lost decade of declining wages, eroding retirement security and escalating health care and tuition costs.

As the co-sponsor of a bill in the House to establish a bipartisan commission that would establish policies to cut the national debt, I am pleased that the White House appears poised to move in a similar direction.

In his State of the Union, the president said he will establish by executive order a commission similar to the one proposed in the legislation I helped craft. It is, however, unfortunate that the president's panel will lack a key point in our legislation: the power to force Congress to vote on the commission's recommendations.

The president's proposal needs teeth. Unless Congress is required to vote on the committee's recommendations, we will have another loophole by which our deficit can grow.
The president has taken positive action by proposing a partial three-year freeze on spending, exempting national security, Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security. This is expected to save $250 billion over the next decade and I support it, but only as a good first step.

However, freezing spending is no silver bullet, which is why a bipartisan debt commission is needed. Reining in runaway federal spending will require both houses of Congress and both parties to work with the White House.

Families and businesses in Arizona and across our country are struggling through the worst economy since the Great Depression. They are trying to figure out which expenses are necessary and which aren't. They are being forced to make tough choices. The federal government needs go through the same process.

It is disheartening that just this week, the Congressional Budget Office projected that the deficit for the current fiscal year will be $1.3 trillion. Although it is a slight improvement over last year and is an early indication that the economy is slowly improving, the debt continues to climb.

The Congressional Budget Office projected that by 2020 -- just a decade from today -- the debt could nearly equal the value of the nation's entire economic output. That would cast a gloomy cloud over future prosperity and increase interest rates as investors from abroad demand higher payments to reflect higher risk.

If we do not pay for our priorities, we are merely passing the buck -- with interest -- to our children and grandchildren. The "Blueprint for Fiscal Reform," proposed this week by the fiscally conservative Blue Dog Coalition, to which I belong, is designed to force Congress to address these issues today.

Deficits distress virtually all Americans. It is a problem that crosses party lines, geographic boundaries and ideological divides.

Wasteful government spending has been the way Washington does business for far too long. We simply cannot continue to pile government debt on the backs of future generations. We must carefully comb through every page of the budget and no program or agency should be spared a thorough review.

It also is heartening that the president reminded Congress to continue its work on health insurance reform. This is a crisis that will continue to harm small businesses and all Americans as premiums rise, businesses drop coverage and more families deal with insurance company abuses if we do not act.