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Obama Gives 6th State Of The Union Address

Heidi Carreon |
January 20, 2015 | 11:28 p.m. PST

Staff Reporter

With two years left, Obama is pushing for some big policies, like a free community college system. (Pete Souza/Creative Commons Wikipedia)
With two years left, Obama is pushing for some big policies, like a free community college system. (Pete Souza/Creative Commons Wikipedia)
Obama addressed the Republican-controlled Congress Tuesday night to reflect on a big year in politics and touch on policies ranging from government programs to diplomacy. 

Middle Class Economics

Obama pushed the idea of “Middle Class Economics” in this year’s address, referring to government programs including tax cuts, healthcare, childcare and paid sick leave. These programs, Obama said, are meant to better the lives of middle-class Americans. 23 guests joined Michelle Obama in the First Lady’s Box to emphasize Obama’s push for stronger government programs, one of them was Rebekah Erler.

Obama used the story of Erler and her husband to as an example of how many middle-class Americans who fell into hard times during the recession are now getting back on their feet. Obama pushed for Congress to give Americans ways to build skills needed for jobs, which in turn led Obama to call for free community college.

“...we still live in a country where too many bright, striving Americans are priced out of the education they need.” Obama said,  “It’s not fair to them, and it’s not smart for our future.” 

Obama also expressed that he wants to work with Congress to reduce monthly payments for students already in debt. 

Shots Fired

With Republicans controlling both houses of Congress, Obama will have a difficult time getting policies going through. It did not, however, intimidate Obama. 

He threatened to veto any bill from Congress that will take away health insurance, end restrictions on Wall Street or “fight old battles” in immigration policy. Obama also threatened to veto any bill that will impose new sanctions against Iran as the U.S. enters a period of negotiations to prevent a nuclear-armed Iran while avoiding another Middle Eastern conflict.

As part of the push for “Middle Class Economics” that Obama believed would give the middle class “a fair shot,” he called on Congress to raise the minimum wage.

“If you truly believe you could work full-time and support a family on less than $15,000 a year,” Obama said, “go try it.  If not, vote to give millions of the hardest-working people...a raise.”

Obama also referenced the Keystone XL Pipeline construction that was denied by a then-Democrat controlled Senate. When looking to improve the infrastructure of the country, he encouraged the people on Capitol Hill to “set our sights higher than a single oil pipeline,” and focus instead on projects such as faster transportation, modern ports and wide-spread internet. 

U.S. Stands Resolute Against ISIL And Terrorist Networks

Obama reaffirmed that the U.S. supports those who have been targeted by terrorists vowing to “continue to hunt down terrorists and dismantle their networks.” He referenced the country’s leadership of a broad coalition that includes Arab nations to fight ISIL’s advance in Syria and Iraq. Obama called on Congress to pass a resolution to authorize the use of force against ISIL.

READ MORE: Obama Has Changed American Politics


Obama also talked about U.S. diplomacy policies over the past year. Obama referenced supporting Ukraine and opposing Russia’s aggression with sanctions. Obama called Russia “isolated...with its economy in tatters.” Obama also talked about the change in policy with Cuba, and talked optimistically about improving relations in the future. He also welcomed Alan Gross, who was previously imprisoned in Cuba.


Obama wants to have policies in places so that the use of technology such as drones will be used with “reasonable restraint.” He also claimed to come up with a solution next month where intelligence officers can do their job without invading people’s privacy.

A Call For “Better Politics”

Obama appealed to Democrats and Republicans to have “better politics,” where Congress members “appeal to each other’s basic decency instead of our basic fears.”

And yet, Obama treaded carefully when addressing pressing social issues. On the one hand, he spoke of protecting freedom of speech and denouncing anti-semitism and offensive Muslim stereotypes. On the other hand, on issues of abortion, immigration and protests sparked by events in Ferguson and New York.

“Surely we can agree it’s a good thing that for the first time in 40 years, the crime rate and the incarceration rate have come down together,” Obama said, “and use that as a starting point for Democrats and Republicans, community leaders and law enforcement, to reform America’s criminal justice system so that it protects and serves us all.”

With two years left to his term, there’s much Obama wants to leave in terms of policy. The question is how many of his policies will be able to even make it to the floor now that both houses of Congress are red. 

Reach staff reporter Heidi Carreon here; follow her on Twitter here.



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