Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Stopping terror to middle class economics: Highlights of Obama's State of the Union Address

President Barack Obama, undaunted by the new Republican majority in Congress, issued a sweeping challenge Tuesday night to do more for the poor and middle class and to end the nasty partisan political fight that has characterized his six years in office.

In a speech reminiscent of a campaign stump message, the president issued a broadly optimistic report about the country in his nationally televised State of the Union address to Congress. He spoke of millions of new jobs created, modestly rising wages and a stock market that has soared as the country climbed out of the Great Recession that greeted him when he took office in 2009.

Here are the top takeaways from the speech:

The State of the Union is improving

Obama was quick to point out that 2014 was a break through year for America and the unemployment rate had reduced by leaps and bounds. "More of our kids are graduating than ever before; more of our people are insured than ever before; we are as free from the grip of foreign oil as we've been in almost 30 years."

Combat Misson in Afghanistan is finally over 

"Tonight, for the first time since 9/11, our combat mission in Afghanistan is over. Six years ago, nearly 180,000 American troops served in Iraq and Afghanistan. Today, fewer than 15,000 remain. And we salute the courage and sacrifice of every man and woman in this 9/11 Generation who has served to keep us safe. We are humbled and grateful for your service."

"America, for all that we've endured; for all the grit and hard work required to come back; for all the tasks that lie ahead, know this. The shadow of crisis has passed, and the State of the Union is strong."

Middle class was the main focus of his speech

President Obama said it was time for Americans to "turn the page" on years of economic troubles, terrorism and lengthy wars, using his sixth State of the Union speech to outline new tax policies that would hit the wealthiest Americans and give breaks to the middle class. His speech proposed new tax credits - including a $500 credit for two-income families and a $3,000 child credit for children under 5 to help with childcare- which would be financed with higher taxes on the wealthiest Americans.

Resolution authorising force against ISIL militants in Iraq and Syria

President Obama's speech would have you believe that America is halting the Islamic State's progress.
He vowed to relentlessly hunt down terrorists from "Pakistan to the streets of Paris," then called on Congress to approve new war powers against Islamic State militants.  He also emphasised that American policy "In Iraq and Syria, American leadership - including our military power - is stopping ISIL's advance," the president said.

"Instead of getting dragged into another ground war in the Middle East, we are leading a broad coalition, including Arab nations, to degrade and ultimately destroy this terrorist group.  We're also supporting a moderate opposition in Syria that can help us in this effort, and assisting people everywhere who stand up to the bankrupt ideology of violent extremism.  This effort will take time.  It will require focus.  But we will succeed."

Democrats are ready to work with Republicans who now control both houses of Congress

While calling for a new era of comity, Obama outlined an agenda that showed he was not going to curtail his own plans in favor of Republican priorities. While he appealed for "better politics" in Washington and pledged to work with Republicans, the president touted bread-and-butter Democratic economic proposals and vowed to veto Republican efforts to dismantle his signature achievements in particular his health care and financial reform laws.

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," Obama said. "And if a bill comes to my desk that tries to do any of these things, I will veto it."

This is the first time a president mentioned 'transgender' & 'bisexual' in the State of the Union Adress

In a speech that had over 6,000 words, President Obama made history  when he used just one of them: transgender.

In a section of the speech in which he noted that Americans “respect human dignity,” Obama included the word along with lesbians, gays and bisexuals. “That’s why we defend free speech, and advocate for political prisoners, and condemn the persecution of women, or religious minorities, or people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender. We do these things not only because they’re right, but because they make us safer.”

Community college should be free

"Forty percent of our college students choose community college.  Some are young and starting out," Obama said. "Some are older and looking for a better job.  Some are veterans and single parents trying to transition back into the job market.  Whoever you are, this plan is your chance to graduate ready for the new economy, without a load of debt.  Understand, you've got to earn it -- you've got to keep your grades up and graduate on time."

Pay women the same as men

US President Barack Obama called on Congress to pass a law guaranteeing equal pay for women, saying it was crucial to helping boost the incomes of struggling families.“This Congress still needs to pass a law that makes sure a woman is paid the same as a man for doing the same work." said Obama.

The proposal was part of a list of initiatives Obama called "middle-class economics" aimed at strengthening household incomes and pulling millions of Americans from the edge of poverty.

Obama declares child care “a must have”

“It’s time we stop treating childcare as a side issue, or a women’s issue, and treat it like the national economic priority that it is for all of us.”

Obama also argued that lack of widespread, affordable childcare is a challenge for families with two working parents.

He went even further in emphasising his support for working moms and dads by talking about paid parental leave and sick leave, too. “Today, we’re the only advanced country on Earth that doesn’t guarantee paid sick leave or paid maternity leave to our workers,” Obama said. “Forty-three million workers have no paid sick leave. Forty-three million. Think about that. And that forces too many parents to make the gut-wrenching choice between a paycheck and a sick kid at home. So I’ll be taking new action to help states adopt paid leave laws of their own.”

Obama drops an ad-lib that crushes the Republicans during State of the Union

The President was supposed to say "I have no more campaigns to run, my only agenda for the next two years is.." the Republicans started clapping ecstatically. But instead he said, "I have no more campaigns to run. I know because I won both of them."

Obama responds to the Sony Hack

And following last year’s devastating hack Sony Pictures Entertainment, Obama once again called on lawmakers to pass new cybersecurity legislation.

“I urge this Congress to finally pass the legislation we need to better meet the evolving threat of cyber-attacks, combat identity theft, and protect our children’s information,” the President said. “If we don’t act, we’ll leave our nation and our economy vulnerable. If we do, we can continue to protect the technologies that have unleashed untold opportunities for people around the globe.”

Expressed his opinon on Cuba and Iran

President Obama wants Congress to lift the economic embargo on Cuba, though the White House doesn't expect Congress to take that step quickly. He also used his State of the Union speech to hail the return of captive Alan Gross from Cuba.

On Iran, he vowed  to veto new sanctions on Iran while world powers pursue nuclear talks. "Our diplomacy is at work with respect to Iran, where, for the first time in a decade, we've halted the progress of its nuclear program and reduced its stockpile of nuclear material."

No going back on climate change

He threatened to veto congressional attempts to roll back Obama's executive actions on climate change and immigration and existing laws on health care and financial reform.

"The best scientists in the world are all telling us that our activities are changing the climate, and if we do not act forcefully, we'll continue to see rising oceans, longer, hotter heat waves, dangerous droughts and floods, and massive disruptions that can trigger greater migration, conflict, and hunger around the globe. The Pentagon says that climate change poses immediate risks to our national security. We should act like it," he said.

No comments:

Post a Comment