On Tuesday, Jan. 28, President Obama gave his fifth State of the Union address. He focused much of the speech on painting a picture of America in recovery from the economic strife of recent years and called for Americans to unite in order to help the middle class and economically disadvantaged.
Obama spoke at length on the topic of income inequality, claiming that upward mobility had stalled and that “too many Americans are working more than ever, just to get by,” and “you should not work full time and raise a family in poverty.”
Obama also called for an increase in the minimum wage, claiming an increase would be good for the economy and America. He called on business leaders to take the initiative in raising the minimum wage, citing Costco as an example of a successful company that takes care of its employees.
Obama then announced that in the coming weeks, he would command by executive order that all federally employed contractors would earn a minimum wage of $10.10 per hour.
Obama had many words to share with Congress over their conduct. He admitted that while the debate over the size of the federal government is important, government shutdowns caused by legislative inaction “do a disservice to the American people.”
Obama then called on Congress to reform tax code to protect American businesses, restore recently-expired unemployment insurance, approve infrastructure improvements, and approve federal funding for research in science and technology.
Obama hailed natural gas as vital to American energy policy, and claimed that America was closer to energy independence now than any time in history.
Obama spent much less time on issues he has taken fire for in recent months, such as the war in Afghanistan, drone strikes and NSA surveillance, saving them for the end of the speech. While he claimed that “America must move off a permanent war footing,” Obama also stated that he had “put prudent limits on the use of drones,” a statement with which many of his critics might disagree.
Obama then claimed he would reform America’s surveillance programs “so that the privacy of ordinary citizens is respected.” He then reaffirmed his commitment to closing the Guantanamo Bay detention center, a campaign promise that has not yet been realized.
Obama also touched on social justice issues such as equal pay for women, gay marriage and the Voting Rights Act. He said that progress was being made and more work lay ahead.
Photo via Amanda Lucidon