President Obama delivered the 2014 State of the Union address with more gumption and energy than the nation has seen since he first took office. With poor approval ratings and a previous year filled with disappointments, Obama seemed determined to “take action” this time around. The question is, can he really take action and follow through on all of the issues our country faces? Of course, he started with the positive changes to date: The lowest unemployment rate in over five years. A rebounding housing market. A manufacturing sector that’s adding jobs for the first time since the 1990s. More oil produced at home than we buy from the rest of the world – the first time that’s happened in nearly twenty years. Our deficits – cut by more than half. And for the first time in over a decade, business leaders around the world have declared that China is no longer the world’s number one place to invest; America is. The President seemed grounded in his desires and efforts to overcome economic struggles with a series of initiatives on jobs, wages and retirement that he will enact without legislative approval.
He addressed the energy policy in controlling climate change. Obama stated, “Over the past eight years, the United States has reduced our total carbon pollution more than any other nation on Earth. But we have to act with more urgency – because a changing climate is already harming western communities struggling with drought, and coastal cities dealing with floods.” The President has directed his administration to work with states on the amount of carbon pollution the nation’s power plants are allowing to dump into the air.
And, of course, immigration reform was a big point for Obama. He said, “Independent economists say immigration reform will grow our economy and shrink our deficits by almost $1 trillion in the next two decades.” All of Obama’s key points seemed to add up to one defining goal: job growth for America. He added, “The ideas I’ve outlined so far can speed up growth and create more jobs.” He called upon Congress to get on board for minimum wage saying, ” In the coming weeks, I will issue an Executive Order requiring federal contractors to pay their federally-funded employees a fair wage of at least $10.10 an hour.”
On a healthcare note, the President focused on the positive outcomes of the Affordable Care Act thus far: no one is rejected for coverage because of pre-existing conditions and three million Americans under age 26 have gained coverage under their parents’ plans. He did not harp on the negative aspects or complaints of many Americans who have had issues finding more affordable plans since the start of Obamacare.
President Obama certainly had a mission in his 2014 State of the Union address. He did not want to waste time and apologize for the mistakes he has made while at the White House. He wanted to bullet point the positive change and call upon Congress to collaborate in passing more laws that may better the American people. Did this make an impact on those who may have lost hope or are not pleased with Obama’s leadership? The polls will tell soon enough.