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  • Randi

As a Chief Executive

Last night I thought I would put the State of the Union Address on in the background while I read my Regency fiction novel. You know, because I’m so good at multi-tasking (insert sarcastic eye-roll), and what two things could be more completely opposite? Well that wasn’t such a grand idea after all. Turns out I should stick to reading political speeches online the following day; I’m less judgmental that way.

So this morning I search for the New York Times in my web browser, like I often do when seeking a political recap. I am not sure why I have grown to favor this source, maybe it’s the simple black and white layout of their website that comforts me, or the fact that I find their articles surprisingly unbiased. But whatever the reason, I would like to discuss this article posted today, What the State of the Union Address Means for 2014.

Barack Obama
“Let’s make this a year of action. That’s what most Americans want, for all of us in this chamber to focus on their lives, their hopes, their aspirations.”

Obama’s agenda seems simple enough, and I find that I cannot disagree. It is how you plan to act that we might encounter some conflict. Let’s begin with immigration. I confess that I am probably quite ignorant on the specifics of our nation’s immigration laws, which might surprise you considering that I live in Texas. Now I understand the value of protecting our borders, but the specifics of what life should look like for immigrants is not quite clear to me. Also I have yet to find a straight-forward article explaining exactly what this immigration reform consists of. (If you know of one, please comment below.)

So since I shouldn’t talk about things that I don’t understand, let’s move on to the proposal to raise minimum wage. As a “common laborer,” I can appreciate my government looking out for my welfare in this way. However, I am more reliant on my employer to keep me employed. And I have to agree that placing burdens on employers in this was will only “hurt businesses and stifle job creation,” which was the reason Congress failed to pass this proposal last year.

The President also discussed his environmental policies, foreign policy initiatives, the “retirement-savings crisis,” his beloved Obamacare, and various others including corporate tax codes, equal pay for women, and tax subsidies for the fossil fuel industries. The president also called for Congress to extend long-term unemployment benefits, and expand the earned income tax credit for workers without children (see here). Wait a second. I get an earned income tax credit for not having children? Well according to this article, Republicans see a broader income tax credit as an alternative to increasing the minimum wage. Now that sounds reasonable. No?

One thing worth noting in President Obama’s address is the ferocity with which he plans to pursue his own agenda even if Congress won’t cooperate. On the one hand I admire this resolute quality. I for one wouldn’t want the job of president; I can only imagine how frustrating it can be to constantly fight people who are supposed to be on your team. But on the other hand, this stubborn approach is bound to prove unfruitful. Deep down, I think he knows that true progress depends on cooperation with a divided and willful Congress. And the bottle line is, Obama still needs Congress’ support for major agenda items, including an increase in minimum wage.

The bottom portion of this post in the New York Times cleverly lists quotes from the president on different topics from different years of his presidency. This one stuck out to me:

“To every mayor, governor, and state legislator in America, I say, you don’t have to wait for Congress to act; Americans will support you if you take this on. And as a chief executive, I intend to lead by example. ”

Whether or not you agree with his policies, has he done so?


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