Smart decisions needed for ‘year of action’ : President Obama still faces uphill battle

By: Chris Zimmer – Columnist, Sophomore

Last Tuesday, President Barack Obama made his State of the Union Address to Congress calling for 2014 to be a “year of action.”

He pleaded to his congressmen and women to send bills to his desk so he can sign them. This shouldn’t surprise anyone given the approval rating for our elected House of Representatives and Senators was at 13 percent in the first Gallup Poll of the year.

The growing divide between the GOP and Democrats was easily seen in the mannerisms from Vice President Joe Biden and Speaker of the House John Boehner both sitting behind the president during his speech.

Biden’s smiles, laughter and applause echoed with those who cheered for the president. Boehner, on the other hand, looked like he was in the lecture hall. This alone could show why the shutdown was inevitable last year, and why a “year of action” should be taken as more repetitive political fluff from our leaders.

However, Congress might not be needed for change. The president promised to raise the minimum wage for workers under federal contracts to $10.10 using an executive order. The debate continues over whether this is a long term solution.
However, I still think this is the result of an awakening to the income inequality in the states. Should it really surprise us that our President, from the Democratic Party, appeals to the middle and lower classes after the non-profit Oxfam International, which seeks solutions to poverty, released a report showing a grim reality?

A week before the speech, it became known that the wealthiest 85 people own as much as the bottom 50 percent of the world’s population. In the U.S., 95 percent of post-recession generated wealth went into the bank accounts of the richest 1 percent. It will be interesting to see how many more fast-food and supermarket employees will protest this year in response to this.

There were a few statements made by President Obama that young people should really ponder. While there are still those who believe climate change is a myth, the president spoke with authority and enthusiasm that last year the United States was number one in regards to carbon dioxide emissions.

I loved the quote, “But the debate is settled. Climate change is a fact. And when our children’s children look us in the eye and ask if we did all we could to leave them a safer, more stable world, with new sources of energy, I want us to be able to say yes, we did.” As college students, it should be clear what the future economy is going to depend on – renewable energy and research.

We should also really think about what the president said regarding health care. It’s a reality. It’s the law.
President Obama stated, “Already, because of the Affordable Care Act, more than three million Americans under age 26 have gained coverage under their parents’ plans,” and “more than nine million Americans have signed up for private health insurance or Medicaid coverage.”

We need to understand the health care system of our future is not going to be that of our parent’s past, and that those in the GOP need to realize they lost, and should move on.

A “year of action?” We’ll see. I hope we can all pray that our president and Congress can make wise decisions, and that 2014 can be better than the last.

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