To Millennials, it no doubt sounded like the coming future’s so bright … well kinda, sorta, maybe if luck prevails.
As required by the United States Constitution, President Obama delivered his sixth State of the Union address to Congress Tuesday. Traditionally, this speech is short on details, long on back patting and filled with jabs and dares to the opposing party. It’s been the same for every president since Washington. In his 2015 version though, Obama laid out a very aggressive plan that almost guaranteed further clashes with an ever hostile congress, but gave hope to millions of Americans.
Over the past year, the U.S. has added 11 million new jobs. We have also increased solar energy production at a rate unheard of (every three months, we add as much solar energy to the grid as we did in all of 2008) and reduced our dependence of foreign oil by opening up American drilling. What does this mean to you, dear reader? Well, besides the greatly improved economy, lower unemployment rate, higher rate of students graduating high school, more people with health coverage and energy self-sufficiency that we currently enjoy, thanks to White House efforts, Obama sketched out a future that could mean sunny days and ice cream falling from the sky for our country’s Millennials. Yes, that means you.
To help families with young children, Obama is proposing an increasing tax cut of $3,000 per child, per year. As young people begin to start new families, this could mean the difference between affording child care and the need to potentially cut the family income in half because, well, somebody’s gotta stay at home with the kids, right? On top of that, his plan includes helping guarantee a minimum of 7 sick days for employees who currently have none. Think of a restaurant worker or bartender you know: If they currently get sick, they lose. No work means no pay but, under Obama’s plan, those folks would have access to 7 days they could be sick and not have to worry about how they’re going to pay the rent.
Obama’s plan also includes more spending on infrastructure. This is what will help keep us on the move while adding more jobs. If you remember (hell, even I’m not that old), infrastructure spending is one of the main things that made this country able to break out of the depression. Infrastructure not only means roads and bridges. It means jobs, which everybody needs, right?
Possibly the biggest deal here is the plan to offer free community college. Yes, if you graduate on time and keep up grades, you can get a head start on a career, skills training or simply improved education, all on the governments dime. You know we used to charge for elementary and high school, right? Once that education was made free, our whole country began to become better educated. With 2 out of every 3 jobs now needing some sort of degree or specialized training, this plan brings hope to many who would have previously been priced out of an education.
Now, I’m getting ready to piss in your Cheerios, though.
As Obama closed out his speech, he began to touch on some of the gridlock that has plagued Washington. You know it’s been an issue. With one party trying to get things done, albeit clumsily sometimes, and the other party trying to stop everything, this congress has been the worst. Over the last six years, the U.S. Congress has passed fewer legislative acts than any congress, ever. This is a huge problem. Before the “God Bless America” was even uttered at the end of the speech, GOP lawmakers were live-tweeting their skepticism and turning the hope into sour grapes. This GOP controlled congress is on track to undo as much of Obama’s progress as they can. Their first big push was to roll back the Dodd-Frank act that has helped reform Wall Street and protected Americans from predatory lenders and hedge fund hacks. After the speech, GOP eyes were rolling at he very idea that any of Obama’s proposals would ever become law. He was attacked by 2012 loser Mitt Romney, reversing his recent trend of talking about income equality. From all sides, Republican lawmakers have attacked Obama’s plans, almost guaranteeing that nothing will happen. To put his plan into action, Obama must find a way to relate to the alienated GOP. This will be tough. At the same time, though, he has painted the Republicans into a corner. Will they stand up for the middle class, or will they continue their practice of looking out for the 1 percent that control most of the country’s wealth?
President Obama has two years left. Resistant to the classification as a lame duck, he has presented congress with a huge choice. He has also set the tone for the 2016 election. We’ll see how all of this shakes out. Remember, though, the choice is ultimately yours come next November. Will we move forward toward a future of peace and prosperity, or will we become mired in the same old political football game where nobody really wins except the fat cats in the boxes?