The Next American Centuryby Representative Brendan F. Boyle
Posted on 2015-02-04
BOYLE of Pennsylvania. Mr. Speaker, I rise to speak
briefly about two aspects of the President's budget that really struck
me and a number of my constituents in Philadelphia and Montgomery
County as so important.
As a new Member, it has been a special honor to be serving in this Chamber, and I have had a few incredibly special moments that all Americans can identify with. One is the swearing-in of a new Congress, something that dates back to right after our First Congress was sworn in right after the U.S. Constitution was signed in Philadelphia. One of those other moments--a constitutionally mandated moment--is [[Page H762]] when the President comes to Congress to give a report on the state of the Union from time to time, as the Constitution says.
Sitting right here in this Chamber and hearing President Obama speak about the state of our Union would be exciting in any year, in any circumstance, but it was especially this year because, for the first time in 6 years--after the deepest and darkest recession in almost a century--we have turned the page. After 6 rather difficult years of digging our way out of a ditch, we now can build a foundation to move forward. With that, there were two areas specifically that the President focused on.
One was a universal college education. As the first of my family to go to college, I know I wouldn't have had the opportunities that I have had in life without having a higher education. I needed a combination of scholarships and student loans and every sort of work-study job imaginable to get there, as well as help from parents and even grandparents. That is a story similar to so many working and middle class Americans, but for too many Americans today the cost of a higher education is simply unaffordable.
The question is: Do you go without it at all even though two-thirds of the jobs by the end of this decade will require some form of a higher education? Do you just forgo a higher education altogether, or do you take on tens of thousands in student loans and then be burdened with paying back that debt upon graduation? Either scenario is far from ideal.
What the President said--and I completely agree--is let's make 2 years of community college universal and free in this country. Now, that may be unthinkable today. 100 years ago, it was unthinkable that a free, fully funded high school education would be universal. Yet, for us, that is the reality today. It would be unthinkable for Americans of my age and even of an older age to imagine a time in which high school was not universal. Let's get there with 2 years of a college education.
The second area the President focused on was the child care tax credit. For so many working families and young families, affording child care is simply unaffordable. We have an opportunity through this budget to change that, to build on the successes of the last 6 years and to finally prepare to make this century the second American Century. Ensuring that we have good, high-quality, affordable child care is vital to this middle class.
The reason the last century was the American Century was that we had the largest and most productive middle class in the world. Access to higher education and access to child care are two necessary ingredients in making sure we have a strong and vibrant middle class in the 21st century.