Facing a divided nation and even more divided Congress, President Obama gave his State of the Union address with a direct message to Republicans: Americans want change. Here are the big issues the president talked about and the Internet's reactions:
— Frank Catalano (@FrankCatalano) January 29, 2014
One of the prominent points the President made was on the state of education in America from childcare to college. Obama mentioned that a number of states have created programs to fund childcare because "they can't wait," he said. "As Congress decides what it’s going to do, I’m going to pull together a coalition of elected officials, business leaders, and philanthropists willing to help more kids access the high-quality pre-K they need."
Obama also touted the broad technology changes he's helped implement in schools. "Tonight, I can announce that with the support of the FCC and companies like Apple, Microsoft, Sprint, and Verizon, we’ve got a down payment to start connecting more than 15,000 schools and twenty million students over the next two years, without adding a dime to the deficit," he said.
One of the programs Obama announced was the College Opportunity Summit, which creates over 100 new commitments to give low-income students financial opportunities to go to higher education.
— The Progressive (@theprogressive) January 29, 2014
The President called out his Republican constituents to get over their past problems with the Obamacare law. "I don’t expect to convince my Republican friends on the merits of this law, " he said. "But let’s not have another forty-something votes to repeal a law that’s already helping millions of Americans."
But with that, Obama called on people to get their friends and family to sign up for Obamacare, "I ask every American who knows someone without health insurance to help them get covered by March 31," he said.
3. Foreign Policy With Iran
— Matty J (@Dem0crats) January 29, 2014
Though the State of the Union is traditionally meant to speak on domestic matters, Obama mentioned the rising tensions with Iran's nuclear program. "It is American diplomacy, backed by pressure, that has halted the progress of Iran’s nuclear program – and rolled parts of that program back – for the very first time in a decade," he said.
"If John F. Kennedy and Ronald Reagan could negotiate with the Soviet Union, then surely a strong and confident America can negotiate with less powerful adversaries today," he said.
4. Income Inequality and Economic Growth
Obama: “YOU get a raise! YOU get a raise! EVERYBODY GETS A RAISE!” #SOTU
— Ben Parr (@benparr) January 29, 2014
Despite a lowering unemployment rate and rising corporate profits, President Obama acknowledged that everyday-Americans haven't been able to see economic growth, but "America does not stand still — and neither will I," he said on Tuesday night at this State of the Union address. "Upward mobility has stalled. The cold, hard fact is that even in the midst of recovery, too many Americans are working more than ever just to get by — let alone get ahead. And too many still aren't working at all," he said.
But Obama also said the first place to start is "access to a good job." He proposed to raise minimum wage which mirrored his support for the Fair Minimum Wage Act of 2013, which would raise minimum wage from $7.25 per hour to $10.10. "In the coming weeks, I will issue an Executive Order requiring federal contractors to pay their federally-funded employees a fair wage of at least $10.10 an hour – because if you cook our troops’ meals or wash their dishes, you shouldn’t have to live in poverty," he said.
"Business leaders around the world have declared that China is no longer the world’s number one place to invest; America is," Obama said.
5. Immigration Reform
— Jeff Denham (@RepJeffDenham) January 29, 2014
Republicans have been forced to face challenges of changing immigration laws, and Obama tonight called on more support for a bipartisan bill on immigration reform. "When people come here to fulfill their dreams – to study, invent, and contribute to our culture – they make our country a more attractive place for businesses to locate and create jobs for everyone," he said adding that immigration reform will reduce the deficit by $1 trillion.
6. Honorable Mentions and Guests of the First Lady
Jason Collins- Last year, Collins came out last year and is the first NBA player to come forward about being gay. Obama praised Collins for coming out and has said he "“couldn’t be prouder” of the all-star, according to the State of the Union website.
— Jason Collins (@jasoncollins34) January 28, 2014
7. Technology and Citizens' Privacy
— Nextgov (@Nextgov) January 29, 2014
Obama pledged to focus more on increasing technology by partnering businesses to research universities. "My administration has launched two hubs for high-tech manufacturing in Raleigh and Youngstown, where we’ve connected businesses to research universities that can help America lead the world in advanced technologies," Obama said. "Tonight, I’m announcing we’ll launch six more this year."
The president also made a call to action for Congress to continue funding future technology research. "Congress should undo the damage done by last year’s cuts to basic research so we can unleash the next great American discovery – whether it’s vaccines that stay ahead of drug-resistant bacteria, or paper-thin material that’s stronger than steel," he said. "And let’s pass a patent reform bill that allows our businesses to stay focused on innovation, not costly, needless litigation."
Energy was also a big talking point with the President focusing on American clean energy. "Every four minutes, another American home or business goes solar; every panel pounded into place by a worker whose job can’t be outsourced," he said. And the increasing debate of climate change played a part in his argument for changing energy standards, "because a changing climate is already harming western communities struggling with drought, and coastal cities dealing with floods," he said.
8. Women's Issues
— Kat Clark (@heykatclark) January 29, 2014
Obama called the pay difference between men and women an "embarassment" and added that "today, women make up about half our workforce. But they still make 77 cents for every dollar a man earns. That is wrong," he said.
#MyRA got upset when people stopped coming to her hall meetings in Bundy North dorm despite the free donuts
— Frank Matt (@fxmatt4) January 29, 2014
One of the big announcements was the creation of a program called MyRA. "While the stock market has doubled over the last five years, that doesn’t help folks who don’t have 401k's," he said. "That’s why, tomorrow, I will direct the Treasury to create a new way for working Americans to start their own retirement savings: MyRA."
"Offer every American access to an automatic IRA on the job, so they can save at work just like everyone in this chamber can," the President said.
10. Multiple Republican Responses
— Montaukoutloud (@Montaukoutloud) January 29, 2014
Republicans claimed across the board that the President has a "My Way or the Highway" agenda, which doesn't work for negotiations. Below are the three Republican rebuttals that were given in response to the State of the Union:
Washington Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers- The fourth top ranking GOP leader gave the official Republican response to the President's State of the Union, which focused on economic challenges of the middle-class. "Last month, more Americans stopped looking for a job than found one," she said. "Too many people are falling further and further behind because, right now, the President’s policies are making people’s lives harder. Republicans have plans to close the gap."
Utah Sen. Mike Lee- Lee gave the Tea Party's response to the President's State of the Union on his website and argued that the middle-class has disappeared from the American Dream. "Throughout the last five years, President Obama has promised an economy for the middle class; but all he’s delivered is an economy for the middle-men," he said.
Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul- Paul has consistently given his own rebuttals to the President's State of the Union every year online.
— Senator Rand Paul (@SenRandPaul) January 29, 2014
You can read the full transcript below: