Washington—Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) today released the following statement in response to President Obama’s State of the Union address:
“I thought President Obama gave a forceful speech covering a broad range of areas where Washington must focus its attention.
“In addition to the key issues of the economy and education, he renewed his call for cybersecurity legislation and outlined a number of foreign policy priorities including battling ISIL and al-Qaeda, coming to terms with Cuba and supporting constructive nuclear talks with Iran.
“For many decades, many of the benefits that came with a growing economy were funneled to the middle class. But since the mid-1990s, the dramatic economic growth shifted from benefitting the many to benefitting mainly the very few at the top.
“I think it’s past time that we bring our attention back helping working families and the middle class, which remain the foundation of our economy. We’ve come a long way since President Obama took office, with 58 consecutive months of job creation and a stock boom that more than made up for the 2008 economic downturn, but we have work left to do.
“To understand how we arrived here, we must understand what happened to affect such a change. How the loss of manufacturing jobs hurt the working class and how the financial sector boom and advent of complex trading mechanisms help only those who take advantage of them.
"The president is right to call for tax reform and the elimination of loopholes that only benefit the rich—we must then use those proceeds to invest in education and child care to give real opportunity to working families. We need to make sure the economy benefits everyone, not just the select few.
“The president’s call for greater access to higher education is a key part of making sure America’s working families can keep pace in the evolving job market. In particular I believe vocational education programs must play a bigger role. One size rarely fits all—and never with regard to education. Workforce training and the ability to secure jobs that pay livable wages must be our goal. To achieve this, we need a wide range of programs to help as many students as possible.
“Let me be clear: Increased access to community colleges must be coupled with requirements that institutions offer rigorous academic and training programs with high rates of completion and job placement. These schools must focus on educating students, not merely enrolling them.
“We must also make sure any federal subsidies don’t serve to drive up the cost of community college. In California, community colleges already educate more than 2 million students a year at less than half the cost of the national average—we must make sure federal subsidies don’t lead schools to increase tuition.
“I believe that with proper safeguards, a program to increase access to community colleges could be a big step toward reinvesting in the middle class and putting our country back on the right track.
“I strongly support the president’s call to Congress to refrain from imposing additional sanctions on Iran. New sanctions now would violate the interim agreement, collapse the negotiations and take us out of lockstep with the international community.
“We have a responsibility to support the diplomatic negotiations and see them through. If they fail to achieve a deal, then we should consider sanctions and next steps, but we shouldn’t prejudge that outcome.”