Optimistic Obama declares victory over a “shadow of crisis” in State of the Union Address

President Obama delivered his second to last State of the Union Address to a joint session of Congress Tuesday night, previewing his agenda for 2015 and giving Americans a look at his administration’s plans for its penultimate year.  Although he’s now a lame duck since the 2014 elections left Democrats without a majority in the House or Senate, the President pressed forward with many of the same themes he’s focused on in the past while attempting to take credit for recent successes.

Referencing the troop drawdown in the Middle East, improved economy, higher education standards and lower crime, President Obama failed to see the flip side of his administration’s actions over the past six years.

“More of our kids are graduating than ever before; we are as free from the grip of foreign oil as we’ve been in almost 30 years,” the President said.  What he neglected to mention was the reality that American college students are graduating with more debt than ever before, and our increasing domestic energy production was no thanks to his harmful regulations and anti-fracking/oil/coal actions.

Calling the State of our Union “strong,” the President declared, “the shadow of crisis has passed.”

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Looking to the future, the President asked, “Will we allow ourselves to be sorted into factions and turned against one another?  Or will we recapture the sense of common purpose that has always propelled America forward?”  This coming from the President and former community organizer who took a page from Saul Alinsky’s demagogue handbook to win in 2008 and 2012.

Focusing on the economy, the President outlined what he described as “middle-class economics,” but what was clearly a justification to expand the role of government.

Starting with paid sick leave for all American workers, President Obama also asked for Congress to raise the federal minimum wage before mentioning his plan to “lower the cost of community college — to zero.”  Sure to release more information about the free community college plan in the future, the President briefly mentioned two qualifiers for this free degree: “You’ve got to keep your grades up and graduate on time.”

What about those of us already past the two-year degree mark in higher education institutions?  The President mostly glossed over our mountain of student loan debt but said he wants to “work with this Congress, to make sure Americans already burdened with student loans can reduce their monthly payments, so that student debt doesn’t derail anyone’s dreams.”

The President was sure to warn the new Republican leadership that any bills sent to his desk that went against his plans would earn a swift veto.

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House GOP Conference Chair Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers of Eastern Washington outlined some of the plans Republicans have in 2015.  When I asked her about policies the GOP majority would pursue she had this to say: “I am committed to policies that will create more jobs, increase take-home pay and grow our economy from the bottom up.  Too often, the federal government with mandates and requirements gets in the way.”  McMorris Rodgers referenced the Regulatory Accountability Act and Save American Workers Act as examples of Republican dedication to bettering our economy.

With the power of his pen seemingly unchecked in the months since November’s election and a sizeable obstacle in the Republican-controlled Congress, the President has a messy field of politics to navigate if he wants to become a completely lame duck.  That being said, past negotiations between Republicans in Congress and the White House suggest the President’s economic agenda will be mostly ignored, but some plans may see an eventual vote — most likely on tax cuts and national security.

To read the presidents prepared remarks in their entirety, see here.

The Republican Response to the State of the Union delivered by Iowa Sen. Joni Ernst can be viewed here.

Spencer Brown

Spencer Brown

Spencer Brown is a native of Minnesota, currently a junior studying government at Regent. He is active in Young America’s Foundation, as well as a fellow in the Koch Leaders Program. He has worked on numerous campaigns up and down the ballot, and interned in federal offices. Most recently, Spencer spent a semester writing political commentary for the Washington (DC) Examiner's Beltway Confidential section. Spencer is a contributor and editor on a number of outlets including OUTSETmagazine, HuffPost Live, PolicyMic.com, and YAF.org.