Hawaii’s congressional delegation today stood firmly behind President Barack Obama’s call in his State of the Union address to try to reduce the income gap between the rich and the poor.
U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz said: “Tonight, we heard a real commitment from President Obama to reversing income inequality. Helping those who are stretched thin is even more important in Hawaii, where so many of our families struggle with the high cost of living. People who work hard and play by the rules should be able to get ahead.”
Schatz said Congress must raise the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour.
U.S. Rep. Colleen Hanabusa, who has said she will run against Schatz for Senate, said: “We can no longer ignore the simple fact that while the economy is recovering, only a small segment of our citizens have seen gains from that growth. We have to do more to ensure that our middle class and those in need also benefit from our successful efforts to get our nation back on track. I think that should start, right now, with extending long term unemployment benefits and raising the minimum wage.”
Noting that Obama may be forced to use his executive powers to achieve some of his goals, Hanabusa said she supports the president in trying to reform the tax code, improve access to education and create jobs.
Sen. Mazie K. Hirono said: “I applaud President Obama for laying out a clear, concrete strategy to grow our economy so that everyone has a chance at the American Dream. Proposals to raise the minimum wage, increase workforce development and job training, expand early childhood education and make college more affordable are ways that we can close the opportunity gap and help strengthen the middle class and those striving to get into the middle class.”
Rep. Tulsi Gabbard said: “For too long, economic policies have stacked the deck against middle-class families, and in favor of ballooning corporate profits. Many families in Hawaii, and across the nation, are struggling just to make ends meet, preventing them from building a brighter future for themselves and their families. When a corporate CEO pays a lower tax rate than their secretary, we see this stark inequity in action. Tonight, the President took a positive step toward addressing the vast and growing trend of inequality, and I welcome his proposals that will support job creation and encourage opportunities for growth and entrepreneurship.”
Gabbard said she was disappointed that the president “did not address the serious overreach of the National Security Agency and its violations of innocent Americans’ privacy and civil liberties. This issue is one of the greater challenges this generation will face.”