“Will we accept an economy where only a few of us do spectacularly well? Or will we commit ourselves to an economy that generates rising incomes and chances for everyone who makes the effort?”
This was just one question posed by President Barack Obama during his 2015 State of the Union Address.
A common theme of President Obama’s speech Tuesday evening was re-invigorating the middle class through an admittedly expensive but hopeful agenda. Obama proudly took credit for an improving economy and challenged members of the primarily Republican congress to “write our own future.”
The President also gave some hopeful insight for the future, speaking repeatedly about better job prospects in the United States.
“The economy is growing and creating jobs at the fastest pace since 1999,” he said. “Our unemployment rate is now lower than it was before the financial crisis and more of our kids are graduating than ever before.”
Obama declared that middle-class economics work and that Congress needs to “put away politics” in order to make progress.
One major proposal for making community college free to students has quickly gathered attention.
“We still live in a country where too many bright, striving Americans are priced out of the education they need,” President Obama said. “It's not fair to them, and it's not smart for our future.”
By the end of the decade, two in three jobs will require higher education and President Obama said in his speech that he believes Americans need to be properly skilled.
In his proposal, prospective students would need to maintain a 2.5 GPA and the program will not be exclusive to recent high school graduates. The proposal includes ‘nontraditional’ students enrolled in two-year community college programs leading to an associate’s degree or could be transferred to a bachelor’s degree. It is currently unclear how the planned funding will be applied to students.
Obama declared that more Americans are finishing high school and college than ever before and that manufacturers have produced over 800,000 jobs.
The speech prioritized the future of America’s children, by planning to make quality childcare more affordable and accessible for all families. Obama also called for bills that offered a tax cut of up to $3,000 per-child for low income families and offered seven days of sick leave per year.
Raising the minimum wage was also discussed, as was ensuring that a woman gets paid the exact same as a man doing the same job.
“Really, it's 2015, it's time,” Obama passionately proclaimed.
Attention was given to the recent hacking issues involved with cybersecurity.
“No foreign nation, no hacker, should be able to shut down our networks, steal our trade secrets, or invade the privacy of American families,” said the President as he urged Congress to pass legislation aimed to better protect America from the threat of cyber-attacks and protect our private information.
Obama concluded his speech with a focus on the values of American citizens.
He advocated for the continued efforts to combat climate change and new avenues for producing energy. Another key value highlighted was inclusion and equality.
“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,” Obama declared to thunderous applause.