Thursday, January 22, 2015

The State of the Union

With the State of the Union just behind, I wanted to express some of my feelings on the importance of watching this long-drawn out speech.
For most people my age, the night the President is on television is just a day when our Tuesday shows are interrupted. However, the night the President speaks, especially the State of the Union, is an important night for America. Besides the obvious point, Obama’s speech will help set direction for the year.

Tonight, I think we will see a powerful speech that I hope the mixed Congress will be able to act proactively and in a bipartisan fashion. Here are a couple points that are expected to be talked about tonight and what they could mean for our country:
1.       Inequality
Obama has talked about this in almost every State of the Union speech, so why not tonight. Contrary to his speeches, inequality has actually increased during his time in office, mostly because of the rise in the stock market. For this reason, Obama has proposed an increase in capital gains tax to 28% for people earning more than $500,000. He also hopes to give the middle class a tax break and increase taxes on the wealthy. These two facts will probably not pass a Republican controlled house.
2.       Cyber Security
Another big topic that has been in the news several times during this year. I read an article a couple weeks ago stating the Obama may ask Congress to bring in some workers from coorperations in America to bolster the cyber-security of the nation. This would have the benefit of putting all the best minds together to help secure American interests. While this does affect a lot of people now, this should be a wake-up call for the people that do not think that cyber-threats are real and can cause a huge problem in this day and age.
3.       Free Education
Another big topic for Obama during his presidency is to expand people’s education by at least getting a 2 year degree from a Community College. Obama has proposed that the federal government pay for a 2 year program and the states may chip in for 25% of the costs. Sorry for the lack of details. Nevertheless, I am big on people’s education so this plan sounds like something that may pass Congress. Obama also talked about having universal childcare, which is an idea that I think is great.
4.       More Days Off
Something that did not get a lot of attention in the media was Obama passing an Executive Order that gives federal workers paid time off for those who just had a child. This would be the right step for America. While most companies already give employees time off, the United States is one of three countries worldwide that the government does not mandate paid time off for maternity leave. Obama has also discussed forcing employers to give up to six paid days for sick leave.
5.       Interest Rates
For a person trying to buy a house, ‘interest rate are at an all-time low’. I have heard this on several commercials as the country went through the Financial Crash of 2008. Well, Obama wants to continue these rates, if not lower them. From what I have seen, this is to attract first-time home-buyers. Millennials are delaying buying a house, if at all. For myself, I am not interested in buying a house at this time. I have several other options right now that need to pan out before I decide to make that step. Other people my age saw what our parents went through and do not want to take on that challenge right now. However when I do make that decision, I will be glad that these rates are at record lows.

An important theme for Obama tonight was that we need to do these things, not because they are partisan but they will help Americans. I hope that Republicans take that to heart and make an impact. America is tired of a deadlocked Congress.

Please spend some time watching the State of the Union, even if it is a quick review. It is very important.

Thanks for reading.
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