Reality has always been a problem for President Barack Obama and State of the Union Addresses. Being a time of grave economic activities, matters are no different. This year, while laced with the same puffy imagery and inspiring rhetoric these speeches are known for, Obama has managed to woo the political cynic in me for the time being.
The theme of the night was jobs, specifically the countless manufacturing jobs overseas in China. It’s high time that these jobs come back to America, and, according to the president, there’s going to be more than enough incentive to come back. He’s planning to take out the tax deductions and tax breaks for companies operating heavily overseas and hand them over to the companies that are creating jobs for Americans.
The president has proposed a basic minimum tax for all multinational companies. Better yet, he’s planning them at a time when, according to the CEO of Master Lock whom the president had spoken to a few weeks prior, “It now makes business sense for him to bring jobs back home” due to rising operating costs overseas.
I say “further” because it would be defying common business sense; any American company that continues to base so much of their production overseas with no intention to move back to the United States must be penalized severely for what I see to be as a directly hostile attitude towards the American economy. If they choose to continue operating overseas, they’re actively telling Americans that despite common sense, they’d rather hire Chinese workers instead of American ones. They’re willing to go out of their way to support China.
Continuing with his platform of more jobs for more Americans, Obama has advocated government investments into the natural gas and clean energy industries. As a proud Texan, I’m admittedly and unashamedly biased concerning his idea to open up our natural gas reserves. The Lone Star State will benefit the most out of the rest of the nation.
However, in his address, Obama made the commitment to end subsidies to oil companies, apparently starting with his decision earlier this month to reject the Keystone XL Pipeline that would run from Canada to Texas. It would have created at least 2,000 temporary jobs in the immediate short-term and at least 20,000 permanent jobs in the very near future.
In solidifying his stance against Big Oil, the president is going to endanger our economic growth. True, the point of clean energy is to eliminate our dependence on foreign oil, but only because that oil is coming from a region that only benefits from our dependence, not share in the neediness. The Keystone XL Pipeline would have been beneficial for us and our northern neighbors, and now there are talks about the Canadians cooperating with the Chinese.
If the president insists on a shift towards clean energy, he’s going to need a growing number of educated workers in those fields. This is especially true considering the fact that the “growing industries in science and technology have twice as many openings as we have workers who can do the job,” Obama said.
While his intentions are indeed noble, his methods are at odds with reality. He proposes to revoke a student’s ability to drop out of school until they are either 18 or graduated. The president has put an emphasis on giving teachers breathing room to actually teach the material and not the test; however, retaining willing drop-outs will only force them to either be kicked into graduating or force them to stick around a few extra years. Sleeping and texting in class has become the “cool” thing to do nowadays; I doubt keeping the kids longer will do much of anything.
Obama has equally condemned both sides for acting stupidly and stubbornly in a way that I find treasonous considering all that’s at stake. In what has to be my most beloved proposal from Obama, the idea that Senate needs to pass a measure requiring that all judicial and public service nominees receive a simple up-or-down vote within 90 days, the American people are going to get what we’ve been asking for: the ability to get a refund for our elected representative. Some of us would rather elect Mr. Coffee for Senator. Make this a yearly thing, an annual check-up or at the very least something you do when over 75 percent of the country hates an entire branch of government.
Something that hits further to home for us Coogs is that President Obama has “put colleges and universities on notice: If [they] can’t stop tuition from going up, the fund [they] get from taxpayers will go down.” Coogs, this means us. Our tuition is bound to jump thanks to our new Tier One status. It’s inevitable. In order to combat the greater demands put upon us, we need to raise tuition. Yet the president wants to stop federal aid for us wanting to get better.
To wrap up the night, Obama made his pledge for solidarity and unification. Given how livid people have been for the last few years, it’s more than necessary to try and convince us to hang on. The public’s already shown how hard it’ll hit back after the outstanding Internet uprising against SOPA/PIPA.
Like everything else Obama proposed in his State of the Union, these are all but promises of yet another politician. When the Democrats controlled the House and the Senate, things barely got passed, if at all. With Republicans and Democrats at all-out civil war, asking for just one of his promises to be fulfilled would be a stretch.
These promises and proposals- — the ones that I do support — I do so fully and whole-heartedly hope as a citizen of the greatest nation on Earth that they are not empty promises. Americans are sick of the false words of hope and change. We’re tired of waiting. America needs the change he promised.
Barack Obama needs to remember that if people are forced to vote for him because of the poor quality of competitors this year, we’ll be expecting even more of him in his second term.
James Wang is a history freshman and may be reached at [email protected].