Colorado lawmakers respond to Obama’s State of the Union

<p>(Megan Verlee/CPR News)</p>
<p>Colorado&#039;s state Capitol in January, 2015.</p>

Colorado's Congressional delegation and governor issued the following statements on President Obama's State of the Union address on Tuesday.

Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper:

“In this State of the Union Address, the president made clear that he has put his focus on fortifying and expanding the middle class, while doing whatever we can to help cultivate high-paying jobs so that more Americans can earn their way into the middle class. That strategy has been at the cornerstone of our economic blueprint for Colorado throughout the last four years, and as I mentioned in our State of the State just a few days ago, in Colorado, we will remain relentlessly committed to workforce development, education and job training.”

Republican Sen. Cory Gardner (excerpt):

Over the past few years, we have had some improvements in our economy. Some parts, such as corporate earnings and stock prices, have even recovered to their pre-recession levels. But these gains can mask the fact that middle class Coloradans and Americans are still feeling pinched. Measures like labor force participation and workers hourly earnings are either flat or going in the wrong direction, indicating that we still have a long ways to go until the middle class feels like there's a recovery. I've called this our "veneered economy", and you don't have to scratch too far below the surface to see many Americans struggling. When you read the news, it can seem like the haves and the have-nots in America are living in completely different economies.

Also: Listen to Morning Edition interview Sen. Cory Gardner.


Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet (excerpt):

"Too many Colorado families still lack economic security despite the recent momentum in our recovery. There are bipartisan steps we can take to strengthen our economy and make the American dream more achievable. There is consensus in both parties that our roads, bridges, dams, and overall infrastructure need to be repaired and upgraded. We should get to work on that. We also need to work on making government more effective and efficient for Coloradans with ideas such as simplifying the FAFSA form.

"It's time for Democrats and Republicans to move past the gridlock and move forward on common sense ideas that can help us create more opportunity for Coloradans."

Democratic Rep. Diana DeGette:

“While America’s economy is transitioning from recovery to sustained growth, our top priority must be to ensure that middle class families in Colorado and across the country share in that growth. No single policy will make this happen, but if we make it a top goal that informs all of our efforts, we can make substantial progress so that working Americans reap the benefit of their efforts.

“I am particularly pleased that the Obama Administration is working to unlock the potential of biomedical research breakthroughs. This topic is a focus of mine, and I look forward to working with everyone interested in finding new discoveries, improving people’s health, and saving lives.”

Democratic Rep. Jared Polis (excerpt):

“Tonight the President left no doubt that he will not be a lame duck President these next two years. He laid out many bold and forward-looking plans that have the potential to improve the strength of our economy, the security of our country, and the lives of all Americans.

“I am particularly excited by the President’s renewed commitment to education and privacy issues, and his continued focus on fixing our broken immigration system. His dedication to creating new opportunity for middle class families remains a core focus of the administration and one that I will work to support in Congress.

Republican Scott Tipton (excerpt):

“While the President congratulated himself on a recovering American economy, the economic challenges that the people of Colorado’s 3rd District continue to face are not cause for celebration. The labor participation rate remains at a 36 year low, with tens-of-millions of working age Americans unable to find the work they need to makes ends meet, and the middle class is shrinking every year. Accounting for those that have stopped looking for work because of a lack of opportunity, many of the 29 counties in Colorado’s 3rd District are suffering from double digit unemployment. Opportunities for growth have been blocked by overreaching and punitive federal regulations that have restricted access to public land, closed small businesses and prevented many more from opening their doors.

“Tax increases, as the President is pushing once again, won’t solve these continued economic challenges or grow the middle class, nor will they address broad problems within the tax code or shrink the national debt. The President is even going so far as to propose taxing college savings plans that have been exempt from taxation in the past so he can fund his plan to pay for community college—where is the sense in that?

Republican Rep. Ken Buck:

“Tonight President Obama expressed a desire to help the middle class, but the middle class is the group that feels most alienated and harmed by the President’s current policies. His plan for the next two years is more of the same: to grow government and increase taxes. The President claims his proposals will expand opportunity, but a continuation of the same stale policies will only result in dwindling opportunities. On top of that, he has grown our debt to over $18 trillion. Sadly, the President fails to acknowledge his contribution to the fiscal burden he is imposing on future generations.

“I will work with my colleagues in the House and Senate to reduce expensive regulations that burden the middle class and small businesses, the backbone of our economy. We have already gotten off to a positive start in the House with the passage of H.R. 37, the Promoting Job Creation and Reducing Small Business Burdens Act. Above all, we must tackle the debt, which poses an existential threat to our nation.”

Republican Doug Lamborn:

"I am very disappointed that the President has decided to go it alone and not offer to work with the new Congress. Instead of offering sound fiscal plans, the President decided to double down on failed liberal policies. There were no serious plans put forward to strengthen our national security or to assist our brave veterans. His economic proposals show that he is more interested in being Santa Claus than being a skeptical steward of our out-of-control debt and deficit. The President should be more responsible with his rhetoric. By misleading citizens into thinking that he can wave a magic wand and dole out hundreds of millions of dollars in government giveaways and new entitlements, he is creating a false impression that will lead to more broken promises and gridlocked government."

Republican Rep. Mike Coffman:

“Unsurprisingly, we heard more plans for government spending and promises of “free stuff” from President Obama tonight, but not enough serious plans to help grow the middle class and cut the national debt that threatens future generations,” said Coffman. “I’m hoping the President sees the value of working with the new Republican Congress to move this country forward, and not bog it down in more debt.”

“Americans expect us to do more than disagree. They sent us to our nation’s capitol to solve problems. On that note, I was happy to hear the President say he is moving towards negotiating free trade agreements that will help expand markets for our products abroad. In Colorado, 48% of exports went to countries involved in the Trans Pacific Partnership in 2012 and we need to make it easier for Colorado products to compete there. That’s good for Colorado workers and businesses, and good for our nation.”

Democratic Rep. Ed Perlmutter:

“Though I couldn’t be there in person I watched President Obama tonight unveil a pro-growth agenda aimed at helping hardworking middle class families in Colorado. Policies which will help working families the most are enhancing American manufacturing, making home buying and college more affordable, and providing workers paid sick and family leave.

“The President outlined a positive message to the American people and the world, knowing we have more to do but building off the many accomplishments of this past year including a strengthened economy, deficit reduction and the Orion space launch.

“This Congress will be presented with many opportunities including fixing our broken immigration system, investing in infrastructure, making education accessible and affordable, and promoting American ingenuity. I hope the Republican leadership in the House and Senate will choose to work with the President to move our country forward rather than block progress and take us backward.

“I look forward to working with my colleagues on these proposals to help my constituents across the 7th Congressional District and across our nation.”