At the start of his State of the Union Address, President Obama spoke of the positive changes that have taken place within the past few years such as troops coming home, more jobs and an improved stock market. Despite these recent developments, the President addressed his concern for an economic boost due to the individuals who still cannot maintain full time jobs. “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, no matter what you look like or who you love,” stated Obama.
The President continued by saying that budget cuts with Medicare and Education isn’t the right way to lower the country’s deficit. The President stated, “We won’t grow the middle class simply by shifting the cost of health care or college onto families that are already struggling or by forcing communities to lay off more teachers and more cops and more firefighters.” Part of Obama’s plan is to change the way Medicare is paid for. He also stressed that tax reform must happen but with a bi partisan effort.
One of the bigger plans of action was to create more manufacturing hubs for more work opportunities. The President acknowledged that bringing jobs to America would be difficult. In order to overcome this, Obama suggested creating 15 manufacturing hubs throughout the country, like the one in Youngstown O.H. that turned an unused warehouse into an “additive manufacturing” or 3D printing center.
These manufacturing hubs would partner with the Departments of Defense and Energy to help strengthen areas that have been hit hard the struggling economy.
A big standout moment was when the President addressed the proposal to raise the federal minimum wage. The President plans to raise wages from $7.25 an hour to $9 an hour. “This single step would raise the incomes of millions of working families. It could mean the difference between groceries or the food bank, rent or eviction, scraping by or finally getting ahead”, said the President.
This proposal was the cause of both conversation and debate on the merits of raising base wages. In her article, “President Obama’s agenda: Easier said than done” from Politico.com, Carrie Buddoff Brown lays out what Obama proposed and the work that would have to take place in order for it to happen. But raising the minimum wage has the potential to be very difficult. In order for this to happen, Congress and not the President would need to enact legislation that would raise the minimum wage.
According to Brown’s article, the possibilities of this happening seem grim. Brown quoted John Boehner, the Speaker of the House from Ohio who sat behind Obama during his speech, “When you raise the price of employment, guess what happens? You get less of it,” he said “Why do we want to make it harder for small employers to hire people?”
Brown continues by stating that the White House released a fact sheet that used examples from economists and different studies to show how jobs would not be in danger if the federal minimum wage was increased.
The President closed off his speech by mentioning families who have been affected by gun violence and how their experiences should have an impact on what happens with gun control. He also mentioned individual heroes such as Desiline Victor, a woman who is 102 years old, who waited hours upon hours so she could vote and Menchu Sanchez, a nurse who made sure newborns were safe after the power went out during Hurricane Sandy. For President Obama, their tenacity of spirit and commitment is the key to improving our nation.