February 1, 2014

#SOTU: What you need to know

By: Jacob Abrahamson–

Last Tuesday, President Obama went before Congress to deliver his annual State of the Union address.  Throughout America’s history, these addresses have been a president’s tool for laying out an agenda for the next year.  Here’s a quick recap of what he said:

  • Minimum wage:  The president asked Congress to raise the minimum wage from $7.25 to $10.10.  He also promised to issue an executive order raising the minimum wage paid by government contracted employers to the same levels, and plans to work with business leaders to achieve his goal.

  • Immigration reform:  Although he did not offer any specific proposals, he expressed hope that Congress would finish what it started during 2013, and said reforming immigration would create a more efficient economy in the future.

  • Climate change:  He took a strong stance on climate change and stated that he is working with businesses and states to decrease dependence on foreign oil and increase the use of natural gas and solar power.  By doing this, he said, the environment will be made safer.

  • Healthcare Reform:  As this has been his signature legislative initiative thus far in his administration, the president told Congress that repeal could no longer be an option.  He did, however, express a willingness to hear suggestions to improve on the bill.

  • Education: Obama proposed a universal pre-kindergarten program, arguing that it is a good investment in the future of the American economy.

  • Jobs:  He sought an increase in funding of high-tech manufacturing hubs across America to ensure that the U.S. is the world’s leader in that field. He also told Congress to restore unemployment insurance, which was cut in this year’s budget.

  • Foreign policy:  The president stated a need to move away from “permanent war” and focus on diplomacy and smaller action.  He also promised to reform both the drone and NSA surveillance programs in order to ensure public confidence in security efforts.  The conflict in Iran also came up, and he pledged to give diplomacy a chance before resorting to military action.

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