On Tuesday, Feb. 12, at 9 p.m., President Barack Obama walked into the House of Representatives shaking hands and kissing checks as a thunderous applause rained down upon him. As passed presidents did before him, President Obama was welcomed into Capitol Hill as he spoke to Congress and the nation in his annual State of the Union Address.
In the president’s first State of the Union address since his reelection, President Obama started off by quoting President John F. Kennedy’s State of the Union address 51 years ago. “The Constitution makes us not rivals for power but partners for progress,” Obama said pausing for applause. “It is my task to report the State of the Union. To improve it, is the task of us all.” This opening call for unity and cooperation echoed throughout Obama’s speech as he touched upon various topics that our country faces daily.
“We can say with renewed confidence that the State of our Union is strong,” Obama continued after receiving a standing ovation from Congress and the audience in attendance. The confidence was in reference to the progress this great nation has made. The progress of troops coming home from overseas, the stock market rebuilding, new jobs being made, foreign oil and car dependency reclining and homeowner having renewed security .
“America moves forward only when we do so together,” Obama called in another plea for unity, “and that the responsibility of improving this union remains the task of us all.” Despite the improvements Obama listed before there are many tasks still ahead and plans for progress.
- Task number one: Avoiding the ‘sequester’ or as economics have explained, “the really bad idea.’ The sequester is a trillion dollar worth budget cut that was passed in 2011 by Congress; to be enacted if they could not reach a plan by this year. Since these sudden cuts will cause a devastating blow to all aspects of government funding, Obama has requested reforms to the main money spender; healthcare. “We’ll bring down costs by changing the way our government pays for Medicare,” Obama stated on how to approach the deficit reduction including tax reform and new job creation in the US.
- Task number two: Working together to stop the progress of man-made climate change. “We can choose to believe that Superstorm Sandy…. just a freak coincidence. Or we can choose to believe in the overwhelming judgment of science and act before it’s too late,” Obama said. The president then went going on to explain we do not need to sacrifice possible economic security for environmental security.
- Task number three: Education financial aid and reform. “Every dollar we invest in high-quality early childhood education can save more than seven dollars later on, by boosting graduation rates, reducing teen pregnancy, even reducing violent crime,” said the president. Obama then called for more challenging high school programs and more affordable higher education university and colleges.
- Task number four: Immigration reform. Obama called for a comprehensive reform that would reduce illegal crossing to their lowest in over 40 years, and expedite those crossing legally into the US.
- Task number five: Fairness in the workplace and at home. On Feb. 12, 2013 the Senate passed the Violence against Women Act that was originally written by Joe Biden 20 years ago. Obama wishes this progress to be continued by passing the Paycheck Fairness Act, which would give women, “a living equal to their efforts.”
- Task number six: was the most emotional and trivial of tasks that lay ahead. “Of course, what I’ve said tonight matters little if we don’t come together to protect our most precious resource, our children,” the father of two said as he received another standing ovation. Obama pleaded for reconciliation and agreement on this matter, 60 days after the tragedy of the Sandy Hook massacre. Obama called for votes to ban assault rifle and ammunition. Stating that if Congress had the right to vote no, the victims of gun violence should have a right to vote.
Bringing the State of the Union to a close, President Obama reminded us that despite the tasks that lay ahead or behind, we are still a nation. “We may do different jobs, and wear different uniforms, and hold different views than the person beside us. But as Americans, we all share the same proud title: We are citizens,” he said pausing for applause, “… it remains the task of us all, as citizens of these United States, to be the authors of the next great chapter in our American story.” The State of the Union come to a close with a thunderous applause that was just as loud, if not louder than when it begun.