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STATEMENT: CAP experts on the State of the Union Address

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Contact: Madeline Meth
Phone: 202.741.6277
Email: mmeth@americanprogress.org

Washington, DC In response to President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address tonight, CAP experts issued the following statements:

Neera Tanden, Center for American Progress President and CEO: “Tonight, President Obama put forward a bold plan to promote shared prosperity for all Americans. While conservatives scramble to repackage stale top-down policies, the president affirmed that we must instead strengthen the middle class in order to energize our economy. Above all, the president presented a profoundly hopeful vision for the future—a future in which all children can attend preschool and are safe from the threat of gun violence, a future in which we have fixed our broken immigration and voting rights systems, and a future in which America leads the world in developing new energy technology and stopping catastrophic climate change.

President Obama’s proposal to raise the minimum wage is a giant step for the middle class. It would help millions of people striving to enter the middle class and would strengthen the economy by increasing workers’ purchasing power. Increasing the minimum wage would be especially helpful to women, who comprise more than 62 percent of minimum-wage workers. This is a crucial step to ensure the economy works for all Americans and that we grow together, not grow apart.”

Carol Browner, Distinguished Senior Fellow and former EPA administrator: “Tonight’s speech is a big win for those who want action on climate change and believe now is the time to act.  The president was clear about the magnitude of the challenge and resolute in his determination to use his executive authority to take action, especially if Congress won’t.  He pledged to build on the achievements of his first term, including historic standards for clean cars and energy efficiency, and he laid down a strong marker that he intends to continue investments in clean energy technology as part of our economic recovery.”

Angela Maria Kelley, Vice President, Immigration Policy: “Tonight, President Obama once again staked out his strong support for immigration reform. He made it clear that fixing our immigration system so that everyone is playing by the same rules is not only the right thing to do—it is the economically wise thing to do. Creating a road map for our nation’s 11 million undocumented immigrants to earn the privilege of citizenship will grow the economy, stabilize families, and strengthen the middle class. But that policy imperative has been clear for years. What is different now, and what was reflected in the president’s speech, is that the political imperatives behind immigration reform have now merged with the need for smart policy solutions.”

Arkadi Gerney, Senior Fellow and gun violence prevention expert: “Tonight President Obama was joined by former Rep. Gabby Giffords (D-AZ) and more than 30 other survivors of gun violence and family members of victims of gun violence. They stood with the president in common cause to keep guns out of the hands of criminals and keep military-style weapons off our streets. They also stood for the Americans who cannot stand because they are among the 11,000 murdered by guns each year. The president challenged Congress to act. It’s time for Congress to meet that challenge.”

Cynthia Brown, Vice President for Education Policy: “We applaud President Obama for taking a stand for the middle class. He made a strong statement that children matter—everybody’s children. And now is the time to make strategic investments to ensure that all children get the same opportunity to live up to their full potential and succeed in all areas of their lives.  For the youngest, that means making high-quality preschool available to all children, including those in middle-income families with parents who are challenged to juggle the demands of work and family while covering the cost of preschool. There’s plenty of evidence that attending a quality preschool is linked to greater academic achievement and a reduced chance of ending up as a teenage parent, a high school dropout, or arrested for a violent crime.”

Michael Ettlinger, Vice President of Economic Policy: “The key economic message in this speech was the president’s forceful embrace of the increasingly adopted view among economists that a strong middle class—not high-income investors or ultra-low taxes—is the key engine of growth and prosperity.  The president tonight delivered his fullest expression yet of the “middle-out economics” approach to economic policymaking, which correctly understands that a strong middle class is critical to most of the key levers that propel an economy forward—worker skills, financial stability, risk taking among entrepreneurs, innovation, and economic demand.  And raising the minimum wage is a measure that demonstrates a commitment to the principle that those who work hard and play by the rules deserve a decent hour’s pay for a hard hour’s work. It is through measures such as this that low-income workers can move off the economic sidelines and be full contributors to a thriving, growing, American economy.”

Caroline Wadhams, Senior Fellow and National Security expert: “The president’s announcement to draw down our presence in Afghanistan to approximately 34,000 troops sets the United States on the right trajectory of continued drawdown from Afghanistan and adheres to the NATO 2014 transition mandate.  The political transition in Afghanistan and not U.S. troop numbers, however, will serve as the primary determinant of Afghan stability. The Obama administration, with the support of Congress, will need to undertake a sustained diplomatic effort to resolve the political disputes at the heart of the Afghan conflict through the 2014 Afghan presidential elections and the political settlement process.”

Julia Gordon, Director of Housing and Finance Policy: “We welcome President Obama’s comments regarding the importance of assisting homeowners, particularly his support for programs to enable more homeowners to refinance their homes. Allowing more underwater homeowners to refinance their mortgages at today’s low rates will support the housing recovery, provide much-needed financial relief to strapped homeowners, and boost consumer demand, simultaneously strengthening the middle class and stimulating economic growth.”

To speak with our experts, please contact:

PRINT:

Katie Peters (economy, education, health care, gun violence prevention)
kpeters1@americanprogress.org or 202.741.6285

Christina DiPasquale (foreign policy and security, LGBT, energy)
cdipasquale@americanprogress.org or 202.481.8181

Crystal Patterson (immigration, ethnic media)
cpatterson@americanprogress.org or 202.478.6350

TV:
Lindsay Hamilton
lhamilton@americanprogress.org or 202.741.6250

RADIO:
Anne Shoup
ashoup@americanprogress.org or 202.481.7146

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To speak with our experts on this topic, please contact:

Print: Katie Peters (economy, education, poverty, Half in Ten Education Fund, women's issues)
202.741.6285 or kpeters@americanprogress.org

Print: Tom Caiazza (foreign policy, health care, LGBT issues, gun-violence prevention, the National Security Agency)
202.481.7141 or tcaiazza@americanprogress.org

Print: Chelsea Kiene (energy and environment, Legal Progress, higher education)
202.478.5328 or ckiene@americanprogress.org

Spanish-language and ethnic media: Tanya Arditi
202.741.6258 or tarditi@americanprogress.org

TV: Rachel Rosen
202.483.2675 or rrosen@americanprogress.org

Radio: Chelsea Kiene
202.478.5328 or ckiene@americanprogress.org