In its coverage of President Barack Obama’s State of the Union speech tonight, CNN lingered on a certain Cuban American senior senator from New Jersey and his ongoing irritation with Obama over the president’s executive action on Cuba.
Consigned to the minority in the U.S. Senate, Menendez tempered enthusiasm for the president’s “bold vision” by focusing in his public reaction on a haggard middle class.
“Middle class economics works,” a grinning Obama told the Republican-dominant legislature, eager to bear hug that broad center of a rancorous public debate.
Menendez remained calmly seated while his colleague from Massachusetts lurched out of her chair to greet Obama’s vow to veto Republican bills that don’t prioritize the middle class.
“Tonight, President Obama put middle class economics front and center – exactly where it belongs,” Menendez said in his statement. “While we have come a long way since the worst recession in our memory and are seeing our economy gain momentum, too many hard working families in my home state are still waiting to feel the benefits. For far too long, middle class families have been squeezed, losing income and purchasing power even as productivity and corporate profits skyrocket. GDP, the unemployment rate, the stock market, and other broad economic indicators continue to improve, but that won’t be enough unless the middle-class gets a raise too and working families feel secure in knowing they have a fair shot to get ahead.
“Tonight, the President laid out a bold vision to build on the progress we’ve made to grow our economy, expand opportunity and make sure the American resurgence doesn’t just benefit the select few, but all Americans,” the senator added. “The plan invests in middle class working families – providing robust tax relief, making college more accessible and affordable, rewarding work and helping workers save for retirement. And it does so responsibly, by eliminating some of the biggest tax loopholes, making sure everyone pays their fair share. I particularly applaud the President’s proposals to incentivize job training partnerships between colleges and businesses and repeal the tax burden on forgiven student debt. As a member of the Finance Committee, I look forward to reintroducing my legislation to address both of these issues in order to give the middle class the fighting shot it deserves.”
When Obama mentioned lifting the embargo on Cuba, the camera showed a firmly seated U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-Fl) and flashed moments later on an unsmiling and unflinching Menendez.