Interpreting President Obama's State of the Union Address

“My fellow Americans, we, too, are a strong, tight-knit family.  We, too, have made it through some hard times.  Fifteen years into this new century, we have picked ourselves up, dusted ourselves off, and begun again the work of remaking America.  We have laid a new foundation.  A brighter future is ours to write.  Let’s begin this new chapter together and let’s start the work right now.”
This excerpt was the final paragraph of President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address given on January 20th, 2015. The speech echoed across the country as the President declared an official stabilization of the economy that has plagued our nation over the last several years. Obama reiterated that his policies have worked and will continue to work if “politics do not get in the way.” President Obama cited 2014 as a “breakthrough year” for America. Our unemployment rate is lower now than before the recession (5.7%) and the private sector has seen 59-consecutive months of job growth. The value of the U.S. dollar has climbed to its highest level in four years, and in part to our country’s less consumption of oil, gas prices have fallen. “We’ve risen from recession,” Obama stated during his speech, and clearly, the statistics validate that.
Obama made it known that our economy is not the only aspect of our country that is improving. “Our combat mission in Afghanistan is over,” Obama stated. Six years ago, approximately 180,000 troops were serving in Iraq and Afghanistan; today fewer than 15,000 troops remain. After some “growing pains” in the early stages of the Affordable Care Act, more Americans are now insured than ever before. The President continues to advocate an increase of the national minimum wage and equal pay for women. Also, for the first time in the history of the State of the Union Address, the terms “transgender” & “bisexual” were used as President Obama advocated marriage and civil equality.
So what does all this mean? Is America on the right path? Has the Obama Administration succeeded? There are a multitude of different opinions around the country and around the campus of William Peace University. Dr. Nye, a two-time recipient of the McCormick Distinguished Teaching Award and Professor at William Peace University made a statement regarding the President, “I do feel as if the President has done a good job and he has made attempts to reach across the aisle. I believe what you saw from the speech was him beginning to take a more direct (authoritative) approach on his agenda as his presidency comes to a close.” There was an obvious distinct aurora about President Obama during the speech, “It’s like he was running for a 3rd-term,” said Democratic Senator Harry Reid. President Obama vibrantly mentioned new ideas, such as Universal Child Care & free community college that causes worry in some Americans about the direction of this country. William Peace University collegiate athlete and Sophomore Class President, Jacob Ennis, says “I’m not too optimistic about the direction of America. With the Affordable Care Act being a huge socialistic type of program, it has taken us one step closer to relying on the government, which long-term will have a negative affect on the country.”
Bottom line, our country’s economy is growing, people are more free, and more people have health insurance. However, do Ennis and other Americans have a coherent cause for concern? Well, the federal government has spent at least $3.5 Trillion over the last three fiscal years and the United States is currently over $18 Trillion in debt. During the speech, Obama mentioned that he was going to send his own budget proposal to congress, but he did not mention that his budget details a plan to spend another $3.9 Trillion in the fiscal year of 2015.
Regardless of how you feel about President Obama, his speech, or the direction of this nation, we all want to see America prosper. Whether you are a Democrat, Republican, or Independent, it is critical that we all converse with one another to find common solutions to better this country. Remember, we are all on the same team, but everyone may believe in a different way to win. As Obama stated in his State of the Union Address, “If we work together, we can accomplish great things.”

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