Earlier this week, President Obama delivered his latest State of the Union address, in which he outlined his agenda for the year. Like every SOTU, there was a lot of cheering and clapping (and pointed non-clapping; I’m looking at you, John Boehner!) and a lot of talk from both sides of the political aisle afterwards. Here’s a quick run down of some of the highlights if you’re having a hard time sorting through all the rhetoric.
We’re out of Iraq, Osama Bin Laden is dead, and the war in Afghanistan is winding down.
We have a huge stake in the liberal uprisings taking place all across the globe, and we should stand up for human rights.
The country needs comprehensive immigration reform to reduce illegal immigration and create an easier path to citizenship for people who want to work and grow and improve this country, rather than just booting them out.
Proposed half a trillion in cuts to the defense budget.
Increased focus on cyber threats.
In this country, a small number of Americans are very, very rich and a growing number of people can just get by. That ain’t right.
The recession hit the country very hard, but things are starting to get better. More jobs are being created, companies are starting to hire again, we’ve cut the federal deficit by a more than $2 trillion, and we’ve started to put new regulations on Wall Street so that this doesn’t happen again.
American manufacturing is the key to our economic future. We need to stop outsourcing our processes, and we need to enforce trade regulations so that there’s not an abundance of unfair competition.
Unemployment is ridiculously complicated, and it makes it hard for people to get back to work. We need to cut through the red tape to make it easier for people to navigate.
We must have equal pay for equal work. (Which, by the way, this did not get NEARLY the applause it should have. I’m looking at you, John Boehner.)
Focus on small business development, make it easier for start-ups to get financing, and provide tax credits for small companies that actually create jobs or raise wages.
Invest in science, research, and innovation, rather than gutting money and resources.
Take the money we’re not spending in Iraq and use it to pay down the debt and invest in infrastructure and capital improvement projects around the country.
Make it easier for homeowners to refinance their mortgages at lower rates.
Provide tax incentives to companies that hire veterans.
This is a good line, so I’m going to quote it directly: “So let’s agree right here, right now: No side issues. No drama. Pass the payroll tax cut without delay. Let’s get it done.”
Teachers are important and matter in the lives of their students. We need to invest in teachers and give them the resources to do their jobs.
Encourage states to make policies that won’t let you drop out of school until you’re 18, with the incentive of improving graduation rates.
College is too expensive, and it takes too long for students to finish. We need to cut interest rates on student loans, improve tax credits, prioritize improvements to public higher education in our state budgets, and make college something achievable for every family.
Drill, baby, drill and frack, baby, frack – with the caveat that companies disclose the chemicals they use in their processing.
Stop subsidizing oil companies and instead invest our interests in clean energy resources.
GOVERNMENT ADMINISTRATION AND REFORM
Consolidate and eliminate bureaucratic regulations that make it difficult to get things done. (This is a carryover message from last year’s salmon quip.)
Better oversight over businesses to make sure they’re doing the things they’re supposed to be doing (not spilling thousands of gallons of oil into the ocean, not making predatory loans, etc).
Improved consumer protections and investigation into fraud.
Reform the tax code to close massive loopholes so that people are paying a fair percentage in taxes. Again, a direct quote: “Now, you can call this class warfare all you want. But asking a billionaire to pay at least as much as his secretary in taxes? Most Americans would call that common sense.”
Stop the procedural nonsense and bickering in Congress, on both sides of the aisle, so that the government can actually accomplish the things the people have elected them to do.