Payne Statement in Response to President Obama's State of the Union

Washington, D.C. – Congressman Donald M. Payne, Jr. (NJ-10) released the following statement in reaction to President Obama’s State of the Union speech tonight:

“Tonight, I was pleased to hear President Obama outline ways we can create more ladders of opportunity for those working hard to climb into the middle class.  Raising the minimum wage, extending unemployment insurance, and increasing investments in education and job training are good steps toward growing our economy and reducing poverty in my district.

“In the greatest nation in the world, your ability to get ahead should not be determined by your birth, but rather by your hard work and ambition.  Those who work hard and play by the rules should have the opportunity to succeed in this country, and I refuse to turn my back on those who have done everything right and are simply looking for a helping hand up, not a hand-out.   I am happy to hear that the president will do everything in his power to help create more opportunities for people who are down on their luck, even if he must lead by example and take more executive action on his own.

“But, President Obama can only do so much alone. There are many issues I heard tonight that Congress can work on together and find common ground:  rebuilding roads and bridges, increasing job training programs, and working toward immigration reform.  We can grow the economy and put people back to work, but we must start the bipartisan conversations and remember that we are here, not to further our own political gain, but to help improve the lives of the people we represent. I am hopeful that the president’s speech tonight will be the first step toward an open and honest conversation because the people I represent who are living in poverty, who have lost their unemployment insurance, and who are looking for work cannot afford to wait any longer.”