Analysis: State of the Union 2015

Analysis: State of the Union 2015

January 21
11:56 2015

Dalton LaFerney / Views & Digital Editor

President Obama delivered his next-to-last State of the Union Address Tuesday night in front of a joint session of Congress, the Supreme Court, generals and millions at home. Obama, in the final two years of his presidency, came on strong with his bold new policies. Key points in his more than 6,500-word speech were cyber security, the economy, higher education, healthcare, energy and social policy.

The president seemed comfortable in his pros, especially considering the deflating loss his party suffered in the midterm election, but Obama has been forceful on his policies as of late. Many experts agree the president is taking a stand against the Republican-controlled Congress — an occupation not seen before by the Obama administration.

“The shadow of crisis has passed, and the State of the Union is strong,” Obama said, transitioning from the ending war in Afghanistan and into the recovering economy.

Obama said “economy” 18 times while delivering optimistic rhetoric, landscaping the situation as a growing economy, shrinking deficits, bustling industry, and booming energy production. While economic growth is actually occurring, the president — and most of Washington —has neglected some key facts.

A president is not an economist. The president should not always be blamed for a poor economy, nor praised for a flowering economy. In the speech, Obama took solace in the economy’s improvement, crediting himself as the reason why.

He pointed out that U.S. jobs have grown for 58 straight months, the longest streak in American history.

An Associated Press analysis points out the job growth is because lower-income jobs have replaced higher wage jobs. Currently, there are 1.7 million fewer jobs than before the Great Recession.

Adding to his vision, Obama reiterated his plan to increase top capital gains taxes to 28 percent for couples making more than $500,000 a year. The tax increase, a plan long blocked by conservatives, would generate $320 million, according to the Obama administration. This plan will likely not make it past the Republican Congress, although Obama’s intentions are to benefit middle-class Americans.

Obama said that $320 million could go to fund his progressive education plan, which would grant two free years of community college education for Americans who can maintain the grades and graduate on time, another Obama idea that will probably not see much success. He has three factors against him: states unwilling to pay their share, Republicans on Capitol Hill and time, as his term ends in two years. A national education overall is improbably in a two-year period.

As student debt continues to soar, Obama looks to reverse the trend, “so student debt doesn’t derail anyone’s dreams.” This plan is congruent with his overall objective to improve the workforce, and bolster U.S. competition in the world.

Here, the president brought up a good point: more than 95 percent of the world’s customers live outside of the U.S. Under Obama’s plan, global markets would be more accessible to American workers, potentially invigorating U.S. business profitability and theoretically expanding American hegemonic influence.

One way to fortify global trade is to master the Internet, something Obama acknowledged in his speech, as he vowed to again launch cybersecurity initiatives to protect American interests online. Along with security, the president also said his administration will seek investment opportunities in new technologies. Any leader of a modernized country has no choice but to invest in cybersecurity and advanced technologies.

The only issue with Obama’s announcement is that it’s almost too late, with countries like Japan far ahead in the technological race.
Before focusing on global markets, the president aims for further equality, this time on paychecks. In the final years of his presidency, expect him to strive for women to have more equal pay as men.
It wouldn’t be an Obama State of the Union without an ego appeal to Republicans. He offered a hand across the aisle to Republicans ready to counter legislate him. This is a classic political paradox, as Obama’s latest policy announcements have agitated Congressional Republicans, while offering a ceremonial handshake. But the president is in his legacy years, so it is reasonable to assume he is willing to work a deal. However, many political analysts say it may be too late for any deal making.
Also look for Obama to close Guantanamo Bay detention camp, a campaign promise. “It’s time to close GITMO,” he said. There is only one State of the Union address left for this president.

About Author

Dalton LaFerney

Dalton LaFerney

Dalton is the editor of the Daily.

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