On Tuesday night, President Barack Obama addressed the United States public in his seventh annual State of the Union speech. Obama focused on economic recovery, international trade deals and stressed the importance of working together with the current Republican-led Congress to push forward policies despite their political differences. Obama also defended his decision seeking to normalize diplomatic relations with Cuba.
Obama confirmed that he will present a federal budget proposal in the coming days and tour the nation to push a spending package forward that emphasizes,‘‘middle class economics.’’ The U.S. head of state opened his address recognizing that the majority of the country continues to face incredible economic challenges, saying ‘‘This is still a hard time for many. Tonight, we turn the page.’'
Obama wove tonight’s address with what he identified as some of his administration’s greatest achievements: increased job growth, greater access to higher reducation and increased access to health care, among other issues. However, thousands of people published their concerns and questions directly to Obama via social media networks.
In the response to reversing the effects of outsourcing, Obama celebrated the country's creation of 11 million new jobs domestically.
Love Obama but we should probably address the fact that many new jobs are coming from the senior sector & declining for recent grads. #SOTU— thisisyourconscience (@lincolnablades) January 21, 2015
Obama also addressed key issues such as the absense of paid sick days, limited maternity leave and lack of childcare services for working families. "We are the only advanced country on Earth that doesn't guarantee paid sick leave or sick maternity leave," Obama said.
The U.S. leader insisted that middle class economics translates into providing working families access to healthcare and education, encouraging the nation to stop treating childcare as only a women’s issue and as an economic opportunity.
Instead of child care how about you create a country wide maternity leave so mothers can spend more than 10 weeks with their newborns #SOTU— Colleen Maciag (@cahness) January 21, 2015
Obama also touched on the controversial issue of the Keystone XL pipeline, stressing the need to look beyond a singular project to build up the economy while highlighting the country’s investment in solar energy and the need to strengthen U.S. infrastructureand exports.
"21st century businesses need 21st century infrastructure – modern ports, stronger bridges, faster trains and the fastest internet." #SOTU— NPR News (@nprnews) January 21, 2015
In defense of working families, Obama criticized the tax system’s loopholes for corporations and the country’s wealthiest families. He called for greater investment in the United States and encouraged businesses to hire veterans to address the high rates of unemployment that war veterans face.
Obama: “To every CEO in America, let me repeat: If you want somebody who’s going to get the job done, hire a veteran.” #SOTU— New York Magazine (@NYMag) January 21, 2015
On an international front, Obama commended U.S. military efforts in Iraq and Syria and urged Congress to pass a bill that will allow the U.S. to take military action against the Islamic State Group.
Regarding U.S. foreign policy in Eastern Europe, Obama also called for increased support of NATO allies in the Ukraine conflict while also boasting about the impact of sanctions on Russia, which contradicted Obama's recent progress with regard to Cuba. During the state of the union, Obama remarked, ‘‘In Cuba, we are ending a policy that is long passed its expiration date. If what you’re doing doesn’t work for fifty years, it’s time to do something new.’’
Obama encouraged Congress to begin work this year to finally end the U.S. blockade. Obama also called for the government to finally close Guantanmo Bay, an unfulfilled promise made since his first presidential campaign almost seven years ago.
Yay to ending Cuban embargo! #SOTU— #BlackLivesMatter (@lexiphane) January 21, 2015
To read the complete transcription of Obama’s state of the union address here: