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In the News: President Obama’s State of the Union Address

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Bethany Olson
Staff Writer
A different atmosphere could be found in the House Chamber on Jan. 25, as President Barack Obama addressed the Senate, Congress, and nation in his State of the Union Address. For the first time in history, both Democrats and Republicans, offering a symbol of bipartisanship, sat next to one another while listening to the address. In previous years the parties sat in segregated areas on either side of the Chambers’ main aisle.
The speech lasted approximately an hour. Obama addressed a variety of issues ranging from our recovering economy to steep budget deficits. In doing so, he proposed a five-year freeze in annual domestic spending; just one way he hopes to tackle the debt that our government faces. He made it clear that he was willing to work with Congress, by any means necessary, to get rid of our nation’s debt.

“I am willing to eliminate whatever we can honestly afford to do without,” President Obama said.

As well as touching on important issues, Obama included in his speech insight as to how our country can move forward and ultimately “win the future.” The three keys to doing so, as he explained, are to encourage American innovation, to emphasize and expand the importance of education, and to rebuild America by improving our nation’s infrastructure. Obama expanded further that we must use technology to facilitate our innovation as well as instill the importance of education in youth, not only at school but at home.

The president also stated that, lastly, we must “redouble our efforts to rebuild” and create a more connected America. As another way of connecting our Nation, the importance of technology did not go unmentioned.

“Within the next five years, we will make it possible for business to deploy the next generation of high-speed wireless coverage to 98% of all Americans,” Obama said. In doing so it would connect “every part of America to the digital age.”

Addressing another important issue of late, Obama spoke of the new health care law. He said that he is willing to work with those who seek to improve it, however will not take steps backwards.

“What I’m not willing to do is go back to the days when insurance companies could deny someone coverage because of a pre-existing condition,” he said.

Obama also spoke of issues pertaining to areas outside of the country. He discussed his plans to start withdrawing U.S. troops from Afghanistan in July and reassured his audience that he would meet the deadline to withdraw all U.S. forces by the end of the year.

Finally, he mentioned his future plans of making a first visit to Brazil, Chile, and El Salvador, attempting to establish more ties with the other nations.

For Sophie Huemer ’11 the speech provided some, but not all of the answers she was looking for.

“It was interesting what he said and didn’t say,” Huemer said. “For example, he mentions Afghanistan several times, but did not mention Israel, Palestine talks, or the unrest in Egypt.”

Huemer says that the President had some good ideas, but there are still a lot to be desired in the two years of his first term.

“Overall, I think he fell short of laying out the new way that the Unites States has to fit itself in internationally. The theme of maintaining greatness through innovation was too vague for a country that needs answers,” Huemer said.

Whether the answers people sought were given or not, Obama used his speech to inform the public of where we are going as a nation, and mentioned that our future relies on more than just the intermingling of Democrats and Republicans.

“What comes of this moment is up to
us,” Obama said. “What comes of this moment will be determined not by whether or not we can sit together tonight, but whether we can work together tomorrow.”
Photo Credit: Hindi