While many of you were watching college basketball or Pretty Little Liars (where did Jason go?) on Tuesday night, President Obama gave the State of the Union address. The speech, which our constitution requires the president to give, generally reports on the condition of our nation and gives an outline of the legislative agenda. So what exactly is our government’s agenda, you ask? We’ll save you from watching the hour-long video.
Starting off with a quote from John F. Kennedy, President Barack Obama set the tone for not only the night, but for the future of our country: “The constitution makes us not rivals for power but partners for progress. It is my task to report the State of the Union—to improve it is the task of us all.”
The men and women in uniform who have been serving in the war are finally coming home. Our businesses, after a “grueling” recession, have created over six million new jobs. We have been buying more American cars and less foreign oil. The housing market is recovering and the stock market is rebounding.
“It is our generation’s task, then, to reignite the true engine of America’s economic growth—a rising, thriving middle class,” said Obama. “It is our unfinished task to restore the basic bargain that built this country—the idea that if you work hard and meet your responsibilities, you can get ahead, no matter where you come from, what you look like or who you love.”
The Affordable Care Act is helping to keep the health care costs down, but Obama is open to other options under one condition: they still need to guarantee a secure retirement. “Our government shouldn’t make promises we cannot keep, but we must keep the promises we’ve already made,” he said.
Plans to eliminate tax loopholes and deductions for the well-off and well-connected are being talked about in Congress. Obama stated that now is our best chance for bipartisan, comprehensive tax reform that encourages job creation and helps bring down the deficit. “That’s what we can do together,” said Obama.
Although the plan to reduce the deficit must be part of our agenda, that alone is not our economical plan. “A growing economy that creates good, middle-class jobs, that must be the North Star that guides our efforts,” Obama said.
Knowing that this will not be easy for any party and that no one will be completely satisfied, Obama emphasized that we must work together: “Let’s set party interests aside and work to pass a budget that replaces reckless cuts with smart savings and wise investments in our future.” If we don’t look past our differences, jobs will be lost and our economy will continue to suffer.
Obama wants to create jobs and produce the best products here in our own country. But to make the best products, Obama said we must invest in the best ideas: “Today, no area holds more promise than our investments in American energy. After years of talking about it, we are finally poised to control our own energy future. We produce more oil at home than we have in 15 years.”
While talking about the dramatic change in weather the last 15 years, Obama said we can either choose to believe that Superstorm Sandy, severe droughts and wildfires were all just freak coincidences, or we can choose to believe in science and act before it is too late. He asked Congress to get together and pursue a bipartisan, market-based solution to climate change.
Obama also asked for senators to come together on an issue that has recently affected our nation: gun control. Both parties are working together to prevent anyone from buying guns and reselling to criminals. Police chiefs are asking to “get weapons of war and massive ammunition magazines off our streets because they are tired of being outgunned.”
In one of the most memorable parts of his address, Obama attempted to explain the impact of the recent elementary school shooting in a way we could all relate to. “… In the two months since Newtown, more than a thousand birthdays, graduations, and anniversaries have been stolen from our lives by a bullet from a gun," he said.
Many other proposals were made in the presidential speech, such as figuring out ways to make higher education attainable to all and reconstruct our educational system in general. Obama also mentioned changes for the housing market and a plan to help with legal and illegal immigration issues. Obama ended his speech with words that helped unify our country and bring full-circle his plan to pull our nation together to make all these changes possible:
“We may do different jobs, and wear different uniforms, and hold different views than the person beside us. But as Americans, we all share the same proud title: We are citizens. It’s a word that doesn’t just describe our nationality or legal status . . . It captures the enduring idea that this country only works when we accept certain obligations to one another and to future generations; that our rights are wrapped up in the rights of others; and that well into our third century as a nation, it remains the task of us all, as citizens of these United States, to be the authors of the next great chapter in our American story.”
Images: MotherJones.com and ABC.com