On Tuesday night, Obama gave his State of the Union Address. The following are some of the most discussed points in the President's lengthy speech.
"Climate change is a FACT!" - This was, by far, the most talked about quote of the night. Many republicans in Congress are adamant climate change deniers. Yet, the vast majority of scientists believe that the Earth is warming and humans are responsible. Obama tied this into the speech when talking more about developing cleaner energy, a policy that will create jobs and lead to a more stable future. Obama declared "Over the past eight years the United States has reduced our total carbon pollution more than any other nation on Earth."
"It's time to do away with workplace policies that belong in an episode of Mad Men." - Obama called for equal pay for equal work, as he did last year, saying "women make up about half our workforce, but they still make 77 cents for every dollar a man earns. That is wrong, and in 2014, it's an embarrassment." What was even more striking about this part of the speech was that, when talking about women's labor issues, he also said fathers deserve worker benefits and protections relating to labor as well (paid sick days and leave). This has long been a progressive policy, and it's nice to see the President pay some lip-service to better working conditions for mothers and fathers.
"America must move off a permanent war footing." - Obama invoked this when speaking about finally ending the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and moving forward on Iran. He made sure to mention that he would use force in the event that he needed to protect Americans, but that he would only send troops into harms way if absolutely necessary. He also passively mentioned drones, saying, "...for we will not be safer if people abroad believe we strike within their countries without regard for the consequence."
"Congress needs to restore the unemployment insurance you just let expire for 1.6 million people." - This was an important one for many people who were waiting to see if Obama would call out Republicans for blocking another extension for the long-term-unemployed. He also said we need to "reform unemployment insurance so that it's more effective in today's economy," but did not go into specific policy goals on that issue.
"One of the best investments we can make in a child's life is high-quality early education." - This issue has been brought to light thanks to the likes of New York Mayor Bill de Blasio, who ran on a platform of providing universal pre-k by taxing the rich, and more left-leaning candidates and representatives around the country. Obama repeated this claim from last year, as he stated in the speech, and he renewed the claim tonight. Congress didn't move on this issue in 2013, and 30 states have raised pre-k funding by themselves.
"If you cook our troops meals, or wash their dishes, you should not have to live in poverty." - Another repeat from last year, Obama renewed the call to raise the minimum wage, reduce income inequality and expand economic opportunities for Americans. Last year, he called on Congress to raise the minimum wage to $9 per hour, and this year, he said he is issuing an executive order to raise federal contractors wages to $10.10 per hour. He called on mayors and governors to bypass Congress and raise the minimum wage. "Americans will support you if you take this on," he said. "Give America a raise."
Read the full text of Obama's speech here.