On Tuesday, Jan. 28, 2014, President Barack Obama delivered his annual State of the Union address to Congress. Even with his approval rating currently at 42 percent, Obama is optimistic for the coming year, which he is calling a “year of action.”
This year’s State of the Union address was very similar to that of 2013, with Obama addressing the economy, education and job training, unemployment and minimum wage, immigration, and of course the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare. The main difference between this year and last year is that this year Obama made it clear to Congress that progress would be made—with or without bipartisan agreement. Obama has an agenda, and he will no longer wait around for Congress.
The first issue addressed was unemployment, a problem that has plagued our nation since the economic recession in 2008. Obama promised continued federal support for small businesses and to continue to work with multinational corporations to bring outsourced jobs back to the United States.
When it came to energy and the environment, Obama restated his support for “clean energy”, namely through natural gas. He also boasted the statistic that the United States has lessened its carbon footprint more in the past ten years than any other country.
Perhaps Obama’s biggest topic of discussion was education and job training. He made it known that Vice President Biden has the responsibility of leading an “across the board reform of America’s training programs to make sure they have one mission—train Americans with skills that employers need and match them to good jobs that need to be filled right now.” He also emphasized the importance of public education funding, namely in the STEM fields. He stated that early education is vital in a child’s educational experience, and that there needs to be Congressional funding for Pre-K initiatives.
If you were to ask a random person, “What has Obama accomplished during his presidency?”, they would likely mention his reforms to the healthcare system. When Obama put forth the Affordable Care Act, he intended it to be a positive reform to the health care sector that would provide millions of uninsured people with free health care. There is only one problem with this idea—providing health care for all Americas isn’t free. In fact, it’s very expensive and has greatly deepened the national deficit. While Obama claimed that the program has been a success by providing millions of formerly uninsured people with affordable health care, many people, including myself, see it as a failure. It seems strange that Obama spent such little time talking about his biggest piece of legislation.
The final topic discussed was military action and foreign policy. President Obama promised that the remaining 180,000 troops in Iraq and Afghanistan would be removed by the end of the year, except for a select few who will remain to assist in the training of the Afghani military. Obama also pushed for further use of diplomacy in both present and future international affairs.
While I feel that the president’s speech was well presented, he basically restated what he has already talked about numerous times. We will have to wait and see if Obama will actually step up and enact some of these proposals, or if he will crumble under the lack of support from a Republican Congress.