In his second to last State of the Union address, President Obama delivered a defiant message before a packed Congress holding a Republican majority whose conservative members are expected to challenge and overturn many of the political proposals that were addressed on Tuesday evening.
With an improving economy and the unemployment rate nearly cut in half at 5.6 percent from 10.2 percent in October 2009, President Obama used his State of the Union address to acknowledge the strength of the country during his presidency which comes at a time when other political candidates in Washington D.C. are slowly beginning to line up and prepare on the sidelines for the upcoming 2016 presidential elections.
“At this moment — with a growing economy, shrinking deficits, bustling industry, and booming energy production — we have risen from recession freer to write our own future than any other nation on Earth. It’s now up to us to choose who we want to be over the next fifteen years, and for decades to come” Obama said.
Obama explained that in two weeks he will send to Congress a budget filled with ideas that are “practical and not partisan” before he crisscrosses the country to make a case for the values contained in those ideas.
Some of the ideas that Obama defiantly upheld on Tuesday night included a mix of old and new ideas.
The old ideas consist of more support for the middle class by adopting an increase in the federal minimum wage and not opposing the reform measures that he already enacted with healthcare, Wall St., and immigration.
“We can’t put the security of families at risk by taking away their health insurance, or unraveling the new rules on Wall Street, or refighting past battles on immigration when we’ve got a system to fix. And if a bill comes to my desk that tries to do any of these things, it will earn my veto” Obama said.
Concerning the minimum wage and pay equality, Obama made a compelling case that it’s the right time to approve equal pay for women and to raise the federal minimum wage.
“And to everyone in this Congress who still refuses to raise the minimum wage, I say this: If you truly believe you could work full-time and support a family on less than $15,000 a year, go try it” Obama said.
Some of the new ideas that Obama mentioned in his address include offering free community college education, guaranteeing paid sick leave and maternity leave to more Americans, and improving child care by “creating more slots and a new tax cut of up to $3,000 per child, per year.”
Obama touched on a variety of other themes such as building a stronger infrastructure (stronger bridges, faster trains, newer ports, etc.), bringing more manufacturing jobs back to America, improving cyber security, and adopting tax reform by ending corporate loopholes.
“Let’s close loopholes so we stop rewarding companies that keep profits abroad, and reward those that invest in America. Let’s use those savings to rebuild our infrastructure and make it more attractive for companies to bring jobs home” Obama said.
Obama’s new proposals come with a price tag of $320 billion that will be paid through tax increases over the next 10 years on wealthier Americans and financial firms.
His plan calls for raising capital gains tax to 28 percent from 23.8 percent for Americans earning $500,000 or more and a 7 basis point fee on the liabilities of large U.S. financial firms with assets over $50 billion dollars.
Obama explained that no challenge poses a greater challenge than climate change and the United States remains committed to cutting carbon emissions. Obama has set aside more public lands and waters than any administration in history.
Obama said that the U.S. signed a historic plan with China to “double the pace at which we cut carbon pollution” and pointed out that because the world’s two largest economies came together, other nations are now stepping up to reach an agreement to protect the planet.