President Barack Obama presented his second State of the Union address by paying tribute to the victims of the January 8 Tucson tragedy that left 6 dead and 14 injured including Democratic House Representative, Gabrielle Giffords. Immediately after his tribute, Obama appealed to both parties to put aside political differences and come together to move America forward.
“New laws will only pass with support from Democrats and Republicans. We will move forward together, or not at all – for the challenges we face are bigger than party, and bigger than politics,” the President said.
Highlights included Obama’s call for investments in education, new technological advancements, infrastructure and the national debt.
“We know what it takes to compete for the jobs and industries of our time. We need to out-innovate, out-educate, and out-build the rest of the world,” said the President.
He pointed out that America can no longer rely on the achievements of the past if it is to compete with the emergent markets of other countries.
Obama called for more focus on education and rewarding the teachers who prepare America’s future generation for their tasks ahead. He said teachers should be honored and recognized in the same way that celebrities are.
This brought members of both parties to their feet in applause. He also called for improvements in the Math and Science programs in schools so that Americans can compete in technological advancements and infrastructure.
In addition, he has called for a ban on earmarks, as he has always spoken against Congress inserting earmarks into legislation.
Obama sent a warning to both parties in Congress letting them know that “If a bill comes to my desk with earmarks inside, I will veto it.” These measures are expected to save approximately $400 billion over five years.
Some GSU students shared their responses to the address. Benjamin Gray, a senior engineering technology major from Prince George’s, MD, said that as a government employee who has had a pay freeze he is still thankful that he does not have to pay more taxes.
Yanick Anagho, a senior accounting and computer information systems major from Cameroon, West Africa described the address as “.a wake-up call for the good of the U.S.”
He said that it was obvious that the president realizes the need for new opportunities in energy, technology and education if the U.S. is going to be able to compete with places like China and Brazil.
Anagho was also pleased that the president realized the need for policies to harness the potential of immigrants, who are becoming “an indispensable part of US economy.”
Another student, Darnetta Moore, a junior psychology major from Los Angeles, said that the address was “encouraging, but actions speak louder than words.”
She is eager for bills to be passed to put Obama’s initiatives into effect, but she is worried that Congress will not pass the bills because of politics.
She was happy that he emphasized the importance of teachers and the fact that he wants to take away the tax break from the wealthy.
Dr. Rose Harris, Department Head and Associate Professor in the department of political science noted that President Obama has always spoken against the divisiveness of Congress and in her words “against partisanship that prevents partnership.”
Dr. Harris said she was also impressed with how Obama “clearly articulated the future of America by showing the link between education, technology, and energy.