President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address to Congress and the American people Tuesday seemed to be just a little less contentious then his past speeches.
The same can not be said for the reaction to his words by members of Congress from the other side of the political aisle, perhaps because they’ve seen their low-approval numbers from the public, as has the president.
But saying he seemed less contentious does not translate to he has thrown in the towel.
Rather, while the president said he wants to work with Congress, he also noted he is willing to use his executive powers to move his agenda along if Republicans fail to act.
Our economy has improved, but as the president noted, the recovery is still not complete and many Americans still need government benefits to make ends meet, such as the longtime unemployed workers whose benefits ran out at the end of last year. We applaud the president for urging Congress to quickly approve another extension to prevent further harm to the economy. We urge legislators to now follow suit.
Many of the issues in this year’s speech are carryovers from last year’s State of the Union.
That’s the case for his call to adopt immigration reform this year. His comments were brief, perhaps due to the delicate nature of current negotiations on the topic which could result in Republicans releasing their own plan next week, but he did make an important point: “Independent economists say immigration reform will grow our economy and shrink our deficits by almost $1 trillion in the next two decades.”
The president noted that income inequality is a growing problem in the country, and called on Congress to increase the federal minimum wage for all American workers to $10.10 an hour. He said he would sign an executive order to raise it to that level for the workers of new federal contractors. He also told Republicans to stop wasting time trying to reverse the Affordable Care Act, and to put up strategies to improve it and cut costs if they think they can.
But the most poignant moment during his speech came during his introduction of Sgt. 1st class Cory Ramsburg, an Army Ranger wounded in Afghanistan during his 10th deployment. The president said Ramsburg never gave up, a lesson for all of us. The ranger received one of the longest standing ovations ever given by the Congress.
We don’t believe the criticism that the president’s address was short on details make sense, given that the speech is not meant to be a detailed proposal, but rather an overview of what the president feels is the state of our country’s social and economic status, and his plans for the future.