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Obama's Call To Action In The State Of The Union

Daffany Chan |
January 20, 2015 | 11:48 p.m. PST

Staff Reporter

In a call to action, President Barack Obama pushed for economic change and a return to American values in his annual State of the Union address Tuesday night. 

President Barack Obama prioritized the economy and American values in his State of the Union address Tuesday (Pool/Getty Images).
President Barack Obama prioritized the economy and American values in his State of the Union address Tuesday (Pool/Getty Images).

Describing the past 15 years riddled with financial crisis and costly wars, Obama reassured Americans that the "shadow of crisis has passed," citing the growing economy and shrinking deficits.

"Tonight, we turn the page," the President said, opening an address largely focused on the nation's future.

Obama spent a majority of the speech outlining a vision to return to a country of equal opportunity, championing the success of "middle-class economics."

Underscoring the urgency to assist working families, the President called for making "affordable, high-quality childcare" a national economic priority. His plan, which gives tax credits for families, especially with two working parents, aims to make childcare more affordable and available.

The proposal triples the tax credit for American families to $3,000 from the existing $550, a move that will alleviate the costs of the nation's 11 million children under the age of five in daycare.

The tax break will also increase the number of middle-class families that qualify for full child care tax breaks by increasing the income level to families making up to $120,000.

Continuing with the vision to help middle-class workers, Obama vouched to help states adopt paid sick-leave laws and pushed for Congress to raise the minimum wage.

SEE ALSO: Obama Gives 6th State Of The Union Address

Minimum wage has been a largely unsuccessful effort on Obama's agenda ever since he campaigned for president in 2008, when he pushed for a raise to $9.50 an hour by 2011. In 2013, he lowered his original proposal to a more modest $9 an hour by 2015, but faced criticism from labor unions for being too low. In the face of unsuccessful attempts, Obama later adopted the congressional Democrat's plan to raise minimum wage to $10.10 an hour.

"If you truly believe you could work full-time and support a family on less than $15,000 a year, go try it," the president said to Congress, a final push against Republicans who have been resistant to minimum wage raise proposals throughout his presidency.

Obama took the time to reaffirm his free community college proposal and the importance of increasing the availability of higher education for low and middle income students. The proposal, announced on January 8, would "lower the cost of community college...to zero" for students earning a C+ average. Through the free community college proposal, Obama aims to reignite state funding in public education and alleviate a national student loan crisis, where community colleges default at more than double the rate of students at four-year public colleges. 

SEE ALSO: The State Of The Union Generated A Lot Of Useless Content About The State Of The Union

The president also drew on the importance of American values and leadership, focusing on recent high-profile international events. Citing recent terrorist attacks in Paris, Obama stressed that the U.S. would "continue to hunt down terrorists and dismantle their networks." He also urged Congress to pass legislation to better protect Americans against cyber-attacks, a move influenced by the recent Sony hacks which the Obama administration claims were initiated by North Korea.

Obama ended his State of the Union address on a thematic note, calling together Americans as "a strong, tight-knit family." With Obama nearing the end of his presidency, the strong rhetoric used to envision a "new chapter" lays out the work ahead.

Reach Staff Reporter Daffany Chan here.



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Watch USC Annenberg Media's live State of the Union recap and analysis here.