Recap: President Obama’s State Of The Union Address

Missed the State Of The Union address last night?  Well, here’s a guide of some major points for those of you who still want to know where we’re at.  The economy continues to dominate President Obama’s agenda, given how the first 20 minutes were a mixture of economic policies from spending cuts to boosting the middle class.  Though we’re no longer arguing about the Bush tax cuts, bailouts, or the debt ceiling, we have new talking points: sequester cuts, deficit reduction, tax codes. Oh my.

Sam Seaborn, fictional speechwriting dreamboat from “The West Wing,” would argue the SOTU speech is not solely about policy, it’s about noble over-reaching that government should aspire to. So what’s on President Obama’s agenda? Where are we heading in the next four years?

Here’s what was said:

  • Women’s Rights: This one is a no-brainer. The House needs to pass VAWA. It’s the first time that we haven’t had this bill since 1994. The President also said he’d like to see women earning equal pay, and expressed his support for outgoing Defense Secretary Leon Panetta’s lifting of the ban on military women serving in combat roles.
  • LGBT and Women In The Military: Women serving in combat wasn’t the only shift the President discussed. He reiterated his plan to leave Afghanistan by the end of 2014 and the need for LGBT military couples to have equal rights to healthcare and hospital visitation. “All this work depends on the courage and sacrifice of those who serve in dangerous places at great personal risk – our diplomats, our intelligence officers, and the men and women of the United States Armed Forces.”
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  • Energy: The President would like to make clean energy a priority in his second term. From a comprehensive bill in Congress to reduce climate change, to boosting the growing clean energy market. “
  • Education: From pre-school to higher education (a huge push for tech-ed — sorry arts!) making access to education more affordable took up a five minute chunk of his speech.
  • Immigration: The SOTU speech called for strong border control, a pathway to citizenship, and fixing our legal immigration system to attract highly-skilled immigrants!  “Send me a comprehensive immigration reform bill in the next few months, and I will sign it right away,” Obama declared.
  • Gun Control: This top priority issue concluded the President’s speech, and in a poignant moment paid respects to Hadiya Pendleton, a 15-year-old girl who, shortly after performing at the President’s inauguration, was killed by gun violence in a Chicago park. The president called for Congress to bring gun control measures, like background checks, and getting “weapons of war” and high ammunition magazines banned, to a vote. “Because in the two months since Newtown, more than a thousand birthdays, graduations, and anniversaries have been stolen from our lives by a bullet from a gun,” the president said.

And if you’re desperate for a visual but don’t have the hour to spare, The Atlantic rounded up the speech in GIFs.  Everything from Senator Marco Rubio’s water filled response, Speaker Boehner’s eye roll, an antsy Joe Biden and of course an Obama fist pump.

What did you think of Obama’s SOTU speech?

[The New York Times]

[The Atlantic]

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