Rep. John Lewis Comments on State of the Union Address
" President Barack Obama made an appeal to Congress tonight in an uplifting and inspiring speech. I am glad that he took the time to describe some of the successes of his administration, which are not discussed often enough. There is no question that when he took over our economy was teetering on the brink of depression. Today it is also clear that he has guided this nation out of grave difficulty toward a more stable, steady economic course. But this President is not satisfied with that success. He is still pushing Congress, coming up with policy ideas, and extending his hand in partnership hoping to make the kind of progress that will touch every American, not just a few.
"Tonight he affirmed the role that government can play in the lives of every citizen. The resources of the federal government belong to the people. It is their contribution that makes up the federal budget, and they sent us to Capitol Hill to distribute those resources wisely in ways that benefit their good. The President wants this Congress to take action that relieves some of the burdens of the people to ensure that their hard-work leads to real progress in their lives.
"He is aware that the gap between rich and poor is widening. It is nearly as wide as it was during the Great Depression. Tax cuts in the last 40 years that have benefitted the rich and raised taxes on working Americans; deregulation of safeguards in healthcare, financial industries, and other sectors of our economy; skyrocketing food, transportation and education prices combined with decades of stagnant wages have led millions to fall out of the middle class and into poverty. Today the top 1 percent of families own over 20 percent of America's wealth. According to Fortune magazine, the top 160,000 of the richest American families own more wealth than almost half of all Americans combined, the 145 million people living at the bottom.
" President Obama challenged this Congress tonight to answer the growing crisis of income inequality. He put forward some meaningful proposals that can help stem this tide. He has urged Congress to stop being an impediment to change, put partisan differences aside, and make the interests of the American people our highest priority. And if this Congress can do that, together we can give millions of average citizens a great deal of hope that there is still opportunity in this nation and the American dream still lives."