What to expect in Obama’s last years

Published on: February 3, 2015

Filled Under: Beyond Our Walls, News, Showcase

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President Obama’s State of the Union address last week revealed his initiatives for 2015, as well as highlighted some of his successes in the recent years of his presidency. See below for a review of his plans for his last years as president.

Economics

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?

  • President Obama wants to provide every American who works hard the opportunity to succeed. He called this “middle-class economics,” which he described as helping people afford amenities such as childcare, healthcare, college, a home, and retirement. In order to do this, the budget that he will propose to Congress will lower taxes on working families, and raise the minimum wage.
  • The rising income inequality in America has been a growing problem, so Obama proposed to close loopholes and increase taxes on the top 1% economic bracket. This will give the U.S. money to build infrastructure, create jobs, and give more opportunity to those living in poverty to make ends meet.
  • Many industries in the United States have been outsourcing their jobs overseas, so Obama encouraged businesses to keep research and manufacturing in America and proposed trade and tax incentives to do so.

Foreign Policy

We lead best when we combine military power with strong diplomacy; when we leverage our power with coalition building; when we don’t let our fears blind us to the opportunities that this new century presents.  That’s exactly what we’re doing right now.  And around the globe, it is making a difference.

  • In reaction to the recent terrorist attacks in Paris and Pakistan, President Obama pledged to crackdown on terrorism and dismantle their networks. He called on Congress to pass a resolution authorizing the use of force on ISIL. Obama also pledged to uphold the principle against big nations bullying the small by opposing Russian aggression and supporting Ukraine’s democracy.
  • Obama also called for an end to the embargo in Cuba, extending “a hand of friendship” to the Cuban people and ending a legacy of mistrust.
  • In face of the threat of nuclear weapons in Iran, Obama highlighted the fact that diplomacy and negotiations are going well, and Iran has decreased their stockpile of nuclear materials. He will veto any proposed sanctions on Iran because they will just stall this diplomacy and might lead to an unnecessary war.
  • As the internet grows in influence, so does the possibility of cyber threats. Obama said that he’s making sure that the U.S. government integrates intelligence into cyber threats, just as has been done with terrorism, in order to prevent invasion of privacy.
  • Obama applauded the work of U.S. doctors preventing the spread of Ebola abroad, and said that the U.S. needs to continue its work to prevent the spread of pandemics, invest in smart development, and eradicate global poverty.
  • Obama implored all politicians to recognize the fact that our climate is warming, and pledged that the U.S. will double the pace at which we cut carbon pollution.

Social Initiatives

By the end of this decade, two in three job openings will require some higher education — two in three.  And yet, we still live in a country where too many bright, striving Americans are priced out of the education they need.  It’s not fair to them, and it’s sure not smart for our future.  That’s why I’m sending this Congress a bold new plan to lower the cost of community college — to zero.

  • Obama pointed out that, in order to “upgrade” America’s skills, we need to stop pricing hardworking Americans out of the higher education that they need. He proposed a bill offering community college completely free for everyone, as long as they work hard and keep their grades up.
  • For the first time in any State of the Union address, Obama used the words “transgender,” “lesbian,” and “bisexual” in order to highlight the injustices committed to minorities around the world and at home. He called on Americans to respect human dignity, and pledged to ban torture and stop human rights abuses around the world.
  • As part of his economic policy to strengthen the middle class, Obama wants to make quality childcare more affordable for every middle-class and low-income family. He also pointed out that the U.S. is the only advanced country in the world that doesn’t offer paid sick leave or maternity leave to workers, which is not fair to any working families. Obama pressed Congress to put forward a bill proposing this measure.
  • Obama applauded Michelle Obama and Jill Biden’s work in training veterans for jobs that they need, and promised to continue this kind of work to help veterans translate their skills and training into civilian jobs.
  • Obama highlighted the success that the Affordable Care Act has had on thousands of Americans who couldn’t otherwise afford health coverage. He also launched a Precision Medicine Initiative in order to bring the U.S. closer to curing diseases like diabetes and cancer by giving the American people access to the personalized information we need to keep ourselves healthier.
  • In response to the debate over Net Neutrality, Obama pledged protect free and open internet, especially in our schools.

 

US Politics

Understand, a better politics isn’t one where Democrats abandon their agenda or Republicans simply embrace mine.  A better politics is one where we appeal to each other’s basic decency instead of our basest fears.  A better politics is one where we debate without demonizing each other; where we talk issues and values, and principles and facts, rather than “gotcha” moments, or trivial gaffes, or fake controversies that have nothing to do with people’s daily lives.  

  • In response to the growing polarization of partisan politics in which Republicans and Democrats won’t see eye to eye on any issue, President Obama called on each side to see us as one America, willing to move our country forward without letting politics get in the way. He pledged to work with the Republican majority Congress willing to negotiate, and called on them to do the same.
  • Although President Obama did not call on any specific action to assuage the racial conflicts such as those in Ferguson and New York this year, he did express the desire to help rebuild trust and embrace diversity in our society rather than letting it divide us.

 

 

See the full transcript of Obama’s 2015 State of the Union Address here: http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2015/01/20/remarks-president-state-union-address-january-20-2015

 

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