State of the Union Address by President Barack Obama

January 29, 2010

By Padmini Arhant

President Barack Obama presented the first State of the Union address to the joint session of the United States Congress.

Appropriately, the core message was about the economy and the various proposals to revive the nation from the prolonged economic recession that began in 2002.

Attention to the small businesses, students and the average American families who represent the significant consumer base is timely and the commitments are economically viable.

The tax cuts to Corporations preserving American jobs is a necessary strategy to deal with the double digit unemployment risen to the current rate by 2.6 percent, since inheriting the 7.6 percent rate in January 2009 when the former President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney left office.

In fact, the $787 billion funding towards President Obama initiated American Investment and Recovery Act helped to contain the economic crisis and the unemployment to a marginal increase against the financial sector avalanche.

There was a large emphasis on education to improve Math and Science skills among K-12 students.

In addition, the President laid out the programs to ease the burden on the students attending Community College through tax incentives, affordable loan payments, increasing Pell Grants and even enticing them to join public service in exchange for the loan adjustment. Of course, the families were included with a $10,000 tax relief for their children’s college education.

As highlighted by the President, sound education is the stepping-stone to progress and prosperity in a society and the effective means to reduce poverty. Also, it would decrease the prison population that is straining the state budgets like in California.

In social issues – the President pledged to repeal the ‘don’t ask don’t tell,’ discriminatory policy in the United States military against the gay service personnel who are equally dedicated in their patriotic duty. A remarkable recognition and long overdue.

On the discretionary budget-spending freeze scheduled to begin in 2011, it’s relieving to note that the safety net for the retirees and senior citizens available through social security, Medicare and Medicaid for the low-income families would not be affected.

However, it’s essential to apply tighter control on the defense spending that is disproportionately increasing against health care, educational and environmental cause regardless of party representation in the White House.

The President urged both parties in Congress to rein in wasteful spending in the form of earmarks or pork barrel – It’s necessary to be discerning in the expenditures given the accumulated national debt.

Job creation through public projects such as high-speed railways and infra structure maintenance is coherent with the former President JFK’s achievement in connecting America from coast to coast.

It’s a worthwhile investment and pervasive in dealing with the energy and environment issues.

The President is right on target in this respect due to multiple benefits on these projects viz.

First, it would decrease unemployment and boost the economy simultaneously.

Second, it enables energy conservation with mass transit possibly becoming the desirable public transportation, besides having a positive environmental impact.

Third, from the health standpoint – the automobile accidents being the leading cause of premature deaths and often leaving the victims with horrific physical injuries in the industrialized countries, the proposed system is a preventive measure in that regard.

Moreover, the stress factor that is common among the motorists could be eliminated as well.

Last but not the least; the local economies would enormously gain from an efficient public transport system attracting tourists within and outside the country.

It’s gratifying to note the President’s affirmation on the health care reform – Echoing the President’s message – Health care legislation cannot wait indefinitely for it’s proved to be a burgeoning crisis contributing to national deficit due to horrendous costs not to mention the loss of lives.

The President also detailed on the financial reform that ought to be implemented to save the domestic and the global financial markets from major catastrophes in the future. It’s crucial for the legislation to be loopholes free to deter the industry from circumventing the rules and regulations.

With respect to the on-going wars in Afghanistan and Pakistan, the capturing and killing of terrorists might be a partial success for the military operation. Nevertheless, terrorism emanating from despair and desolation cannot be eradicated with military might and sophisticated drone attacks.

In the absence of a functional government facilitating basic necessities like clean water, agricultural and industrial growth, education, health care and social equalities that guarantees freedom to live life with dignity, the regions will continue to be the breeding ground for terror.

The President fulfilling the campaign promise on troops withdrawal from Iraq by this summer deserves praise and credit. Again, the veterans returning home after a traumatic combat situation have to be suitably provided for their settlement in the civilian environment. These patriots and their families cannot be abandoned after their sacrifices for the nation.

Warning the rebels in Iran and North Korea on nuclear programs is warranted. But, the successive failures in the multilateral talks in 2009 and 2010 among the 6 powers including Russia on Iran’s nuclear program suggests the inherent mistrust and power struggle conspicuous in the United Nations Security Council.

Reiterating the earlier suggestion, the solution to resolve the international crisis on different fronts is to expand the U.N. Security Council from 5 to 11, with the inclusion of new and conciliatory members like Japan, Brazil, India, South Africa, UAE and the present defacto member, Germany.

In other international crisis, even though the Israeli Palestinian conflict was not part of the address, the President responded to a town hall participant’s question on this issue.

Despite Israel being the United States strongest ally and the political predicaments prevalent more in Israel than Palestine, Israel’s settlement expansion along with brutal occupation and humiliation through check posts in Palestine must be condemned unequivocally to reflect fairness and United States commitment to an independent two state solution in the region.

To summarize the first State of the Union address by President Barack Obama, the content was relevant with the economy being the primary focus and the well-articulated objectives strengthened the urgency to act on the issues confronting the nation.

The presentation was immaculate for it had the measured composure and at the same time the passionate delivery revealed empathy, resilience and resolve to energize the party members and the democratic base especially after being let down in the preceding political upheavals.

Now, the responsibilities lie with the Congress members of both political parties to lay their ideological differences aside and coalesce to pass the legislations designed to alleviate the average Americans’ suffering, for which the representatives were elected.

The people on their part, i.e. the students, working families, senior citizens, businesses and alike have a unique opportunity to renew democracy by calling the local representatives in the House and the Senate to pass the pending legislations on financial reform, health care and climate bill.

Democracy is efficient with the main street activism to promote the desired ‘Change,’ in Washington and Wall Street.

When we could succeed in 2008, we will do so in 2010, if you make it possible.

Please extend your support to our President Barack Obama and those Congress members who are devoted to your interest and not the special interests.

Thank you.

Padmini Arhant


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