During his 70-minute State of the Union address at the House Chamber Wednesday night, President Obama made it clear to the American people that his number one focus was to continue working towards building a more stable economy in order to secure more jobs for the millions of unemployed people in the nation.
Although jobs were his main focus, he also addressed other problems that the nation faced including education, health care, energy efficient plans for the future, more exports, an updated railroad system, bringing home troops, tax cuts, and freezing government spending.
As his speech began to unfold, Obama strolled through the crowd shaking hands and greeting his fellow colleagues before he made his way to the front of the crowd. Nancy Pelosi, the speaker of the House of Representatives, gave the opening introduction, and a loud uproar of applause followed.
During the first part of his speech, Obama took blame for not adequately explaining his plans to the public and connecting with their everyday worries.
“I campaigned on the promise of change, ‘change we can believe in,’ the slogan went,” he said. “And right now, I know there are many Americans who aren’t sure if they still believe we can change, or at least that I can deliver it.”
He reassured them that the change would come, just not overnight.
“We do not give up. We do not quit. We do not allow fear or division to break our spirit. In this new decade, it’s time the American people get a government that matches their decency; that embodies their strength,” he said. “And tonight, tonight I’d like to talk about how together we can deliver on that promise.”
“We can’t continue to blame Obama for the slow progress of the economy. He’s doing all that he can. Americans need to recognize that he is only one man, and that patience is needed if he’s going to fulfill the many promises that he made,” said Dawud Lawson, a technical analyst from Chicago.
President Obama stated that the recovery act, signed into law on February 17, 2009, was responsible for several outcomes including tax cuts and more jobs, but he also said that there are still other issues that need to be resolved such as education and health care.
Vernon Chatman, a student at Prince George’s Community College was excited to hear that Obama hadn’t forgotten about college students.
“It’s good to know that I’m not the only one that thinks college students shouldn’t go broke just to get their education,” he said. “I’m glad that he has a plan for us.”
In his speech, Obama proposed that he would make college more affordable by giving families $10,000 tax credits and increasing Pell Grants. He also urged that graduating students only be required to pay 10 percent of their income on student loans and all of their debt will be forgiven after 20 years, and in 10 years if they choose a career in public service.
Health care, another major concern that Americans were hoping Obama would speak about, developed half way through Obama’s speech. Obama expressed that the bill could possibly reduce the deficit below its projected level by as much as $1 trillion over 20 years.
“I’m glad that Obama talked about the health care bill, but that’s not enough. I, fortunately, have health care because I am a veteran, but my mom doesn’t. And I think it’s terrible that it has to be this way because she’s old, and she gets sick a lot. Without health care for her, things can become quite difficult,” DC resident Carlos Campos sadly claimed.
For the many Americans in need of jobs, Obama proposed to take $30 billion dollars of the money that Wall Street repaid to help community banks give small businesses the credit they need to stay in business. He also planned to propose a new small business tax credit, which would allow small business to hire new workers and raise wages.
“My family and I love Obama. We back him all the way in everything that he does. But of course we are also excited to hear that he plans to give small business tax credits because I have to admit that business has been slower than normal, but we do what we can,” said Stacy Lee Banks, the owner of Lee’s Flower Shop.
Obama acknowledged that the government had a habit of over spending money and he said that he would veto any bills that did not adhere to his demand for a three-year freeze on some domestic spending. He announced a new bipartisan deficit-reduction task force that would cut $20 billion in inefficient programs in next year’s budget.
Obama also urged Congress to require lobbyists to disclose all contacts with law makers or members of his administration in effort to allow corporations greater flexibility in supporting or opposing candidates.
It was clear that those present had different opinions about the proposed plans that Obama delivered. During his speech, Obama noted that both Democrats and republicans alike should come together as one with their ideas for resolutions to the nation’s problems.
“While Obama was speaking there were some that cheered and there were others that sat and watched with blank stares shaking their heads and grumbling because they disagreed with him,” said ABC 7 News intern Tilesha Brown.
Soon after Obama’s speech ended, the Republicans followed with a response given by Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell. In his response, he called for a less intrusive federal government and an end to health care reform.