January 21, 2015

Lawmakers find common ground with initiatives

Members of Hawaii's congressional delegation stood behind President Barack Obama on Tuesday in his call for bolstering the middle class through tax breaks for working families, paid family leave from work and free community college.

Sen. Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, praised both the content and delivery of this year's address, saying Obama looked loose and comfortable and was more pragmatic and realistic than he has been in the past.

"He's ready to do business," the senator declared.

The president, Schatz said, sharpened his message this year, describing the economy and the way things are in a way many Demo­crats failed to do in the midterm elections.

"He pointed out that we are experiencing sustained growth, but to have the economy grow more robustly, we need to grow from the middle out, not the top down," he said.

Witnessing his first State of the Union address as a member of Congress, Rep. Mark Takai, D-Hawaii, served on his party's Escort Committee and welcomed the president with a handshake as he entered the chambers.

Takai, who flew into Washington earlier in the day and was wearing a lei, presented the president with a cigar lei before the event. Obama, he said, promised to wear it afterward.

Takai praised the president's focus on the middle class, saying growing the economy should be aimed at everyone, not just a few. "This resonates across the board," he said.

Sen. Mazie Hirono, D-Hawaii, said in a statement that she's proud to stand with the president "on the side of working families." She said his proposals will strengthen the economy and grow the middle class.

Schatz, Takai and Hirono all pointed to the community college initiative as a bright idea.

Hirono called the proposal "a game changer for families I've met in Hawaii and across the country. We must make investing in our keiki and our future a top priority — from expanding pre-K to making college more affordable."

Read the entire piece at: http://www.staradvertiser.com/newspremium/hawaiinewspremium/20150121_hawaiis_delegation_Lawmakers_find_common_ground_with_initiatives_.html?id=289266901

By:  Timothy Hurley
Source: Honolulu Star-Advertiser