President Obama’s Final State of the Union Messageby Representative Earl Blumenauer
Posted on 2016-01-12
BLUMENAUER. Mr. Speaker, one recalls the state of the Union that
President Obama inherited upon taking office: overwhelming problems
occasioned by the near collapse of the economy, 700,000 jobs lost
before he was even in office half a month. It would take many months
more to arrest the slide. There were fierce battles, arguments about
whether we should spend money to try to help people and industries.
His work was complicated by the announcement early on by the Republican leader in the Senate that his number one goal was not to fix the economy or deal with health care or the environment or national security; it was to prevent President Obama from being reelected to a second term.
Time has shown that the money that was spent was critical, and most independent experts agree that we should have invested more heavily in things like rebuilding and renewing America. Even so, our performance has been better than any of the other developed economies.
Those results were achieved with divisions and arguments that continue to be played out today on the national political stage as there are people seeking the Presidency later this year. But my hope is that, as the President addresses this Chamber tonight, there might be an opportunity to move past some of the divisions and controversy.
My hope is, as the President looks up in the gallery and sees the First Lady, that he might pause and acknowledge her important work in health and nutrition; that he might spend just 3 minutes on a topic that can bring people together; that he would admit that we as a government still pay too much to the wrong people to grow the wrong crops in the wrong places, that we would be far better off if we weren't subsidizing people to grow food that actually makes Americans sick.
I would hope that he would propose that the Federal Government help more farmers and ranchers with research and market access at home and abroad. Let's pay those farmers and ranchers to protect water quality and water quantity.
I would hope that he would propose that we subsidize more healthy food in our schools and for senior citizens and low-income people.
I would hope that he would acknowledge the revolution that is taking place in food and agricultural thought and policy in this country, as documented in the recent PBS special, ``In Defense of Food,'' with Michael Pollan.
There is an exciting national movement promoting value-added agriculture, healthy food, animal welfare, and environmental protection that will strengthen rural and small town America and provide more satisfaction for the men and women who work in agriculture.
It would only take 3 minutes, but it would be an important milestone for this revolution of food and farm policy that cannot happen soon enough.