By Melissa Luby, News Editor
In last Tuesday’s annual State of the Union Address, President Obama expressed optimism about the country’s current state and future aspirations.
Obama opened his address by citing a long list of American accomplishments: the highest rate of job creation since 1999, falling unemployment rates, and the dwindling number of troops in the Middle East.
Obama’s vision for the future of our nation is a system of “middle-class economics”—a system where “everyone gets their fair shot, everyone does their fair share, and everyone plays by the same rules.”
Obama hopes to achieve that “fair shot” through goals such as providing paid sick leave for workers, raising the minimum wage, and equalizing wages for women and men. Recognizing the rise of double-income families, Obama urged Congress to institute a new, $3,000 tax cut per child per year to help parents afford childcare. Obama also issued a challenge to employers: “see beyond next quarter’s earnings and recognize that investing in [your] workforce is in [your] company’s long-term interest.”
The President’s economic goals extend beyond the nation’s borders. One primary goal is to prevent the outsourcing of jobs to other countries.
“No one knows for certain which industries will generate jobs in the future,” he said. “But we do know we want them here in America.”
The President suggested that creating “strong new trade deals [with] Asia and Europe” would help to protect American workers. International trade is necessary, said Obama, because 95% of the world’s consumers live outside the US.
Another of Obama’s goals is to make higher education more accessible. Obama praised the primary and secondary school systems, congratulating elementary schools for record-high reading and math scores and high schools for record graduation rates. Although college graduation rates are also at an all-time high, Obama still called for improvement.
“In a 21st-century economy that rewards knowledge like never before, we need to up our game. We need to do more,” he said.
Obama’s plan for “doing more” includes making community college free for all students of all ages. Over 40% of current American college students attend community colleges, Obama said.
Obama encouraged the United States to continue to be a leader in scientific discovery. The president hinted that the manufacture of liquid fuels from sunlight and colonization of Mars are among his goals for American scientists. One of Obama’s biggest hopes is that scientists will begin to address the growing concerns of global warming.
According to Obama, 2014 was the hottest year on record, and 14 of the 15 hottest years on record have fallen in the first 15 years of the 21st century.
Internationally, Obama maintained that the United States must continue to be a political leader. However, Obama hopes that the country can lead through diplomacy and the protection of human rights rather than force.
“That’s how America leads,” he said. “Not with bluster, but with persistent, steady resolve.”