Obama speaks on opportunity in the State of the Union Address

Photo courtesy of WhiteHouse.gov

Maureen O'Leary

What GSU professors are saying.

“The president was sort of throwing down the gauntlet saying ‘I want these things done, I’m coming to Congress to get them done, and if you don’t do them, I’m going to start doing them on my own.’ That, I think, is the biggest message,” Richard Pacelle, Ph.D., professor of political science, said.

“He has the ability to do certain things by utilizing his executive authority, but an across-the-board increase in the federal minimum wage is going to require agreement from Congress.  He can’t do that unilaterally,” Brett Curry, PhD, professor of Political Science said. “And I just don’t see that happening, when the Republican Party is almost certain to keep control of the House of Representatives for the remainder of the Obama presidency.”

“Overall, I believe this year’s speech reflected the president’s frustration with the Congress more than anything else. In my opinion, he was implying the Congress and/or the Republican Party have risked the national interest of American people for their own gains” Asal Mohamadi Johnson, PhD, MPH, professor of international studies, said.

“The big thing is if immigrants become legal then they’ll pay taxes. We’re losing a lot of tax revenue from having a lot people who work and are not on the books. I think if that can be balanced it will help the economy,” Pacelle said.

“[Obama] made a light-hearted comment about how citizens should encourage young people to sign up.  This is because the program depends heavily on healthy young people to offset the expenses incurred by older people who use their benefits more,” Glynn Ellis, PhD, professor of international studies, said. “Young people have reportedly been avoiding the program in large numbers.  My son pointed out to me that it is a lot cheaper for him to pay the fine than to enroll in the program.”


President Barack Obama gave his fifth State of the Union address Tuesday night at 9 p.m. from the White House.

Obama set the agenda for the night saying, “Where ever and whenever I can take steps without legislation to expand opportunity for more American families that’s what I’m going to do.”

Obama spoke about using executive orders to push his agenda if congress obstructs his proposals.

Obama emphasized education along with job training, focusing specifically on preschool and high-quality education for the youngest Americans entering the school system.

Obama said his administration will work with states to provide high-quality education for Pre-K to four year-olds in America.

It was said that his administration will provide 15,000 schools and 20 million students with high speed broadband without adding to the deficit and offer college students a cap for their loan debt that equals 10 percent of their income.

Obama talked about reforming unemployment insurance and about workers wages, citing his intentions for women to be paid on an equal scale as men and for minimum wage to increase to $10.10 per hour.

He said he asked Vice President Joe Biden to lead an across-the-board reform of job training programs to teach Americans the skills needed to fill jobs right now.

The president highlighted the strides that have been made during his administration including the formation of more than eight million new jobs over the past four years, higher high school graduation rates, fuel, a strong five-year stretch of farming exports, the lowest unemployment rate in under five years, more oil produced at home than bought and America eclipsing China as a country to invest in.

Obama said that over half of large manufacturers are thinking of in-sourcing jobs that are currently abroad, and that he intends to increase tax incentives for hiring at home and close loopholes that make outsourcing desirable.

He plans to launch six new private-public manufacturing hubs like the one that opened earlier this month in North Carolina to bolster the job market.

Obama said that he would like to increase the use of renewal energy sources and implement a tax policy that stops giving $4 million per year to fossil fuel industries.

Obama spoke about reforming immigration and how it will grow the economy and shrink deficits.

“It is time to heed to the call of business leaders, labor leaders, faith leaders, law enforcement and fix our broken immigration system,” Obama said.

He also spoke about creating an IRA for people to invest in their retirement and described the investment as a decent return with no risk of losing what’s been invested.

Obama moved on to healthcare saying that nine million Americans have already signed up.

He briefly addressed gun control, stating his unchanging position on the issue.

“I intend to keep trying with or without Congress to help stop more tragedies from visiting Americans in our movie theaters, shopping malls and schools like Sandy Hook,” Obama said.

He moved onto foreign policy stating that the war in Iraq is coming to an end and that 60,000 troops have been withdrawn from Afghanistan, and all troops have been withdrawn from Iraq.

Obama said, “We will complete our mission by the end of this year and America’s longest war will finally be over.”