United States President Barack Obama delivered his first State of the Union address Wednesday night, beginning by not only going over the past twelve months of his administration, but major historical events of the previous administration/decade to remind listeners how the country got to this point in time.
The President admitted that not everything went according to hopes/plans, but pointed out the accomplishments of the past year, most of which seem to get lost/forgotten amongst the rhetoric and negative criticism.
Although bailing out the banks was not a popular move, it was necessary to prevent a potential economic collapse, and most of the loans have been repaid, a fact that seems to be little known.
Obama then went on to point out tax breaks and other programs that had been initiated within the past year with positive results and the fact that income tax has not been raised, as many critics feared would happen.
Then, citing that "Change has not come fast enough," but still hopeful for the future, the President began announcing his agenda for the coming year.
*Obama hopes that Congress passes a new recover act/stimulus bill along with a new jobs program, but both aimed towards 'small' businesses and the middle class. Then he called for the reduction of benefits to big businesses that are exporting American jobs overseas because "we cannot be Number 2!"
*Stating that "the future cannot be put on hold", the President announced proposed energy plans that included the short term use of off shore drilling and nuclear energy while developing alternative energy sources for the future; better trade agreements and fairer enforcement of the current trade treaties that would allow for more American exports into foreign markets; and better education incentives. These included not teaching strictly towards getting a student passed the standardized tests, revitalizing the community college system, and reworking the student loan program to favor the students.
Then President Obama pointed out the financing of these and the other programs he would like to see implemented within the coming year.
When former President George W. Bush took office, there was a $200 billion budget surplus, but when his administration took office, Obama inherited a one trillion dollar deficit! He then admitted that unfortunately, due to the bank bail out and other government expenses, that the deficit had grown to two trillion dollars, but his administration was taking steps to reduce that amount. Except for the areas of Medicare, Medicaid, Homeland Security, National Security, and Social Security, there would be a government spending freeze for three years, beginning with the 2011 fiscal year.
*Of course the subject of Health Care Reform arose. The President urged Congress not to let partisan politics and lobbyists dictate and/or deter the process and finish drafting a Health Care Reform Bill to present for his consideration.
*Did you know that the White House daily posts a list of who visits and for what purpose?
This lead into a brief statement about the use of common sense, true bi-partisanship, and no insiders/lobbyists, etc; contributing to what should be "an united Congress working for the people!"
Then President Obama announced his displeasure at the Supreme Court's recent decision about overturning portions of the current Campaign Finance policies, which led to urging Congress to draft a NEW Campaign Finance Reform bill, all of this because the government "must restore the public trust!"
There was no comment from the Supreme Court in attendance during this portion of Obama's address, although they did not look happy at hearing his comments.
Afterwards, citing the conditions/rules that soldiers are returning home to in regards, the President pointed out that America should support their military both before and after they serve their duty, in hopes that benefits will improve for the wounded and the widowed.
Towards the end, the topics of equal pay for equal work and civil rights were covered too.
Out of everything he said and proposed, the one thing I am unsure how it will be acted upon is President Obama's request to allow gays/lesbians the chance to actively serve within America's armed forces, for this was a proposal that was met with complete silence by the Joint Chiefs of Staff who were in attendance for the State of the Union address.
When the President finished speaking, Virgina governor Robert McDonnell delivered the Republican commentary in what I truly believe was a carefully staged presentation.
But listening to the reply from the opposing party, I didn't hear anything new, or even anything promising.
Just more of the same GOP rhetoric that President Obama is hoping can be put aside so an united Congress can work towards serving this country and its people.
And before anyone calls me out about the above, a friendly reminder: the President is against partisan politics from BOTH sides, not just the one he is not a member of.
Lee Houston, Junior
The Free Choice E-zine