President Obama’s Final State of the Union: What to Watch For and How You Can Participate
Tuesday night will see President Obama delivering his seventh – and final – State of the Union address. By most accounts, the President will both reflect on the past – highlight some of his Administration’s accomplishments – and look ahead to the future. With only one year remaining in office, and with a Republican-controlled Congress that’s not eager to pass many pieces of legislation he supports, the President is expected to look not just to the coming year, but also to the years that follow in laying out his vision for the country.
Let’s start with looking back at some of those accomplishments:
- The Affordable Care Act has meant 16 million more Americans with health insurance, an end to the pre-existing condition exclusion, an expansion of Medicaid in 28 states, and more.
- The President stood firm and pressed Congress to increase spending over the harmful sequester caps in the FY16 omnibus spending bill.
- He pushed for the improvements to the Child Tax Credit and Earned Income Tax Credit to be made permanent in the recent tax package deal; together, the EITC and CTC improvements raise roughly 16 million people above or closer to the poverty line, including about 8 million children.
- His Administration oversaw the establishment of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, protecting consumers from unscrupulous practices by lenders, debt collection agencies, credit reporting companies, pay day lenders, and for-profit colleges. Since its inception, the CFPB has won more than $11 billion for over 25 million Americans.
- The President’s executive actions last week took important steps to reduce gun violence. One of the seats in the First Lady’s box at the State of the Union address will be left empty to represent the victims of such violence.
These are important accomplishments, to be sure. But we know more progress is needed to help the 48 million Americans living in poverty and the millions more struggling near poverty. In the President’s own words, he’ll focus on, “what we all need to do together in the years to come; the big things that will guarantee an even stronger, better, more prosperous America for our kids…” To accomplish these goals, we need to speed up the reduction in poverty. Even under a best-case scenario, cutting poverty in half would take until the year 2040 at the current rate. Getting child poverty to that same level would take until 2049. We need to ensure a shared prosperity, including a tax system where the wealthy and corporations pay their fair share. We need to make sure everyone has a chance to succeed, by creating good jobs that meet our nation’s needs and the needs of our workers – including education and job training, living wages and family-friendly policies. We need a strong safety net for when those jobs aren’t available, aren’t feasible, or aren’t enough to keep people above water. We need comprehensive immigration reform and the ending of recent deportation raids targeting immigrants who have fled violence. We need progress in all of these areas to make our country stronger and more prosperous for everyone, and we hope to hear President Obama address these issues on Tuesday.
How can you participate? Share – in the comments section below and/or on social media – what you’re hoping to hear from the President and what you think of what he says. What issues are most important to you? What’s the state of your union? Let us hear from you. We’ve pasted below some sample tweets that you can use before, during and after the event, but we also want to hear your thoughts.
CHN members AAUW and NETWORK have also put together SOTU bingo cards to track the ideas and proposals President Obama mentions in his speech. For an interesting history of the State of the Union address and what you might see this year, you can also check out this video from David Hawkings at CQ Roll Call. You can also make your voice heard by participating in the White House’s Virtual Big Block of Cheese Day this Wednesday, when Administration officials will answer your questions on social media.
- Thanks to the #ACA 16 million more Americans are now insured! http://ow.ly/WVhQj #SOTU
- Thanks to the #ACA Americans can get quality, affordable care regardless of their pre-existing conditions http://ow.ly/WVhQj #SOTU
- For the first time, more than 90% of Americans have health coverage http://ow.ly/WVhQj #ACA #SOTU
- Progress has been made, but more must be done to reduce poverty in America and improve the safety net http://ow.ly/WVcHP #SOTU
- Permanent improvements to #EITC #CTC in 2015 means ~16mill people will be less poor #SOTU
- .@CFPB has won > $11 billion for over 25 mill Americans, protecting consumers from lenders, debt collectors + for-profit colleges #SOTU
- Each year, more than 30,000 American lives are cut short by guns. As we look forward, we must keep fighting to #stopgunviolence #SOTU
- .@Potus has taken big steps to #StopGunViolence, but Congress needs to finish the job and save lives #SOTU
- Cutting US #poverty in 1/2 would still take ¼ century. We can–and must-speed up the pace http://ow.ly/Su4PU #SOTU
- Fact: #childcare costs as much as 85% of income for family at poverty level http://ow.ly/WVd5A #paidleave #SOTU
- The federal #minimumwage is still just $7.25/hr. It’s time for Congress to act http://ow.ly/WVdht #SOTU
[Photo credit: Official White House Photo by Pete Souza]