Mr. President, I rise today to discuss the urgent need to address our nation’s economic challenges and to suggest that a major part of our approach should be to invest in clean, alternative energy and energy efficiency. It has been a very exciting few days for me since being sworn in on Tuesday. As this is my first speech on the Senate floor, I’d like to thank Majority Leader Reid, Minority Leader McConnell, the Senior Senator from New Hampshire Judd Gregg, and our Senate leadership for their warm welcome and support.
On November 4th, voters in my home state of New Hampshire and across the nation went to the polls and demanded a new direction. I’m eager to work with my fellow Senators and our next president, Barack Obama, in fulfilling our promise of change.
The challenges before us are great. For eleven months in a row, the number of jobs in our nation has declined. More and more families across the nation are losing their homes to foreclosure. And too many Americans watched their retirement savings evaporate last year. It is no exaggeration to say that this Congress and President-elect Obama will face some of the most difficult challenges in our nation’s history. These problems were created over many years, and they will not be solved quickly. But Americans have always united to meet great challenges. I have no doubt we will do so once more.
Our first task is to get our economy back on track by putting the middle class first again and creating jobs. As the recession continues, it has become clear that a bold economic recovery package is necessary. This package must focus investment in areas of the economy that will provide the recovery we need and lay the foundation for long-term economic strength.
Investing in our nation's aging infrastructure will both create needed jobs in the short-term and foster economic development in the long-term. There are critical capital projects throughout the state of New Hampshire, such as repairing and upgrading our roads and bridges, modernizing public schools and higher education facilities, and replacing outdated water treatment plants. These investments will create jobs and lay the groundwork for sustained economic growth.
With a bold investment in energy efficiency and clean, alternative energy we can create millions of new 21st century green collar jobs, begin to reverse global warming, and start on the path to energy independence. New Hampshire small businesses already are leaders in the new energy economy, making everything from wood pellets, to ethanol from forest byproducts, to solar panels and biofuels. We have seen firsthand how investment in clean energy creates good jobs up and down the economic ladder – advanced manufacturing jobs, highly skilled construction jobs, jobs installing solar panels and energy efficiency systems, jobs selling and delivering new fuels – good jobs that cannot be outsourced overseas. I’m honored that I’ll be joining the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources to work on these important issues.
These investments are necessary to get our economy moving again. But as we invest, we must also develop a comprehensive plan to address the nation’s ballooning budget deficit and the enormous national debt we have inherited. Our nation’s financial strength tomorrow depends on our careful planning and prudent investments today.
In November, Americans cried out for a new way of doing business in Washington. I applaud President-elect Obama for leading the way with the most open and transparent transition process in our nation's history. We must continue that transparency, we must recommit to accountability and oversight, and we must end the partisan gridlock that has stymied progress for too long. I am committed to working across the aisle to make Washington work again for middle class American families.
Tuesday, when I took the oath of office as a U.S. Senator, I made a commitment to embrace the opportunities that lie ahead and to help lead our nation in the new direction we so desperately need. I’m eager to begin.
Thank you, Mr. President.