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Politics

“Today in America:” President Obama Will No Longer Wait For Congress

In the President’s Sixth State of the Union, He promises more Executive Orders

President Barack Obama delivered his sixth State of the Union Address in Washington D.C. on Tuesday January 28. During his speech the President spoke of the growth that the nation is experiencing and how he plans to continue it into his second term.

The President began his speech with an “It’s Morning in America” type tone, describing the lives of various everyday Americans and the good work that they do. Using the line “Today in America” he went on to talk about a teacher who spent a little extra time with students, an entrepreneur who created jobs through her business, an autoworker whose work helped America to become self-sufficient in oil production, a farmer who is ready to start the spring session of exports, a doctor who gave a child an affordable prescription, a man who worked a night shift so his son could have a better life, and finally a community who is thankful for its fellow citizens who have been lost to war.

Obama said, “It is you, our citizens, who make the state of our union strong. And here are the results of your efforts: the lowest unemployment rate in over five years; a rebounding housing market, a manufacturing sector that’s adding jobs for the first time since the 1990s, more oil produced at home than we buy from the rest of the world, the first time that’s happened in twenty years.”

Obama continued, “Our deficits cut by more than half, and for the first time in over a dedicated, business leaders around the world have declared that China is no longer the world’s number one place to invest; America is.”

Dr. Joseph Patten, Chair of Political Science and Sociology Department said, “The president set out a modest agenda for the coming year probably because Congress has blocked much of his agenda over the past couple of years. The most interesting part of the speech for me was his assertion that because of the legislative gridlock he will use more executive orders involving raising the minimum wage for federal contractors and on other issues.” 

Ryan Kelly, a junior political science major, said, “It’s cliche to say ‘the same recyled promises are being made’ that will ultimately keep the United States on the right track. But because of that cliche quote, I can’t put too much stock into what the President is saying.”

One of the ways the President plans to keep the progress in motion is through Executive Orders. He stressed the need for congressional action, and hope for there to be compromise, but at the end of the day, he will no longer play into rounds of never ending debates.

Obama stressed his willingness to work with Congress but forewarned, “America does not stand still, and neither will I. So wherever and whenever I can take steps without legislation to expand opportunity for more American families, that’s what I’m going to do.”

Dr. Michael Phillips-Anderson, associate professor of communication said, “There were no huge new initiatives in his agenda. What is different is a willingness to accomplish more by executive action acknowledging that Congress won't pass much of what he wants.”

Phillips-Anderson continued, “He seemed more energized than I expected. This has obviously been a year when several things went wrong for the President, but he appeared excited to move forward. He was a little feistier than we've seen in a while.”

Obama called for action to be taken to help create more high-tech manufacturing jobs. After the success of two “hubs for high-tech manufacturing” in North Carolina and Ohio, he hopes to launch six more within the next four years.

He wants to help more entrepreneurs be able to start up their businesses, and export more goods that are “Made in America.” The President called for changing the cuts made by Congress on federally funded research in order to lead to more products such as “Google” and smartphones in hopes for America to have more successful stories.

The Presidents claimed energy to be one of the biggest influences in the growing jobs market, along with bringing America to a point of energy independence.

Obama said, “And taken together, our energy policy is creating jobs and leading to a cleaner, safer planet. Over the past eight years the United States has reduced our total carbon pollution more than any other nation on Earth.”

He hopes to spawn economic growth, and American independence through the fields of energy production. The President claimed America to be the leading country in the solar industry, and increasing its strengths with natural gas. Through further development and more factories Americans will be able to have more jobs and have energy independence.

Obama spoke about his plans to increase education through better opportunities early on in the child’s life. The President hopes to reform schools and work with communities to create better environments for children to learn through “high-quality pre-K,” connecting more students to high-speed broadband, re-designing high schools to work with colleges and create more opportunities for students. For students already in student debt, the President spoke of the 10 percent cap on their income post-graduation.

Minimum wage was a major controversy the day of the State of the Union. The morning of the speech the President announced his Executive Order to raise the federal minimum wage to $10.10. In his speech he spoke about the need not only for minimum wage to rise but also equal pay for women in the work force.

Obama said, “It is time to do away with workplace policies that belong in a ‘Mad Men’ episode. This year let’s all come together, Congress, the White House, businesses from Wall Street to Main Street, to give every woman the opportunity she deserves, because I believe when women succeed, America succeeds.”

The President’s foreign policy has remained intact, with a call to reform surveillance programs in order to keep America secure and to be sure people’s privacy is no longer violated. He spoke of his plans to improve American diplomacy, the first step being closing Guantanamo Bay.

Obama stated, “And with the Afghan war ending, this needs to be the year Congress lifts the remaining restrictions on detainee transfers and we close the prison at Guantanamo Bay because we counter terrorism not just through intelligence and military action but by remaining true to our constitutional ideals and setting an example for the rest of the world.”

Obama concluded, “The America we want for our kids -- a rising America where honest work is plentiful and communities are strong; where prosperity is widely shared and opportunity for all lets us go as far as our dreams and toil will take us -- none of it is easy. But if we work together; if we summon what is best in us… with our feet planted firmly in today but our eyes cast towards tomorrow, I know it's within our reach. Believe it.”

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