January 20, 2015

#SOTU 2015: What you need to know

President Barack Obama delivered the State of the Union address on Tuesday, Jan. 20 to a joint session of Congress. Six years after taking office, Obama scrapped the usual laundry list of proposals for the next year and spoke about broad proposals and goals for the last two years of his presidency.

“The state of the Union is strong,” he said, adding that “the shadow of crisis has passed.”

The main focus of the speech was what Obama called middle-class economics.

“This country does their best when everyone has an equal shot,” said Obama.

Here are some of the issues he discussed:

  • Minimum Wage: For the second year in a row, Obama asked Congress to raise the minimum wage. He challenged them to try to raise their families on the current minimum wage.
  • Tax credits: The centerpiece of his middle-class economics is lowering taxes for working families.
  • Childcare: Obama expressed a desire to make childcare more affordable for middle class and low income Americans through tax cuts so parents will be able to work. Obama called it a “national economic priority.”
  • Community College/Student Debt: Obama has announced a plan to make community college free to allow for more workforce education. He also asked Congress to allow students with debt to decrease their monthly payments.
  • Sick and Maternity Leave: America is the only advanced country without paid sick leave, which Obama says hurts families who may have a sick child at home. Calling it “the right thing to do,” Obama urged Congress to allow for seven sick days.
  • Infrastructure: Rather than focus on a “single pipeline,” said Obama, referring to the Keystone Pipeline, Obama asked Congress to pass an infrastructure plan.
  • Civil Rights: Obama said he hopes Congress will fight for voting rights, as the 50th anniversary of the Voting Rights Act approaches. He also said that Americans should come together after Ferguson.
  • Foreign Policy: Obama asked Congress to pass a formal resolution for military action against ISIS. He also stated that he plans to combine military power and strong diplomacy.

The President highlighted the recent success of the economy and came to Congress with confidence due to a recent increase in his approval rating.

However, if recent years are any indication, a successful speech does not mean a successful agenda. Speaker of the House John Boehner, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and other Republicans will surely push their own agenda just as hard.

Photo courtesy ABC News

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