The State of the Union and a Year of Action

Barack Obama

Photo courtesy of http://www.forbes.com / President Barack Obama

The talk on the importance of closing the gap on income inequality becomes more vexing as the days get longer. During President Obama’s State of the Union speech on Tuesday night, he talked about raising the minimum wage and providing people with ladders into the middle class.

Since the economy has started to rebound, Wall Street is doing well, home prices are rising, the stock market is vibrant, and corporate profits continue to escalate.

Even with so much financial success being talked about, what about the men and women of the working and middle class?

According to “high ranking administration officials,” the president has declared 2014 as “the year of action.” The White House released a fact sheet of 12 executive actions that President Obama plans to issue this year.

As of yesterday, Obama raised the minimum wage “through executive order to $10.10 for federal contract workers.” While I applaud the president for his action, it seems that this order may be more superficial than hefty.

The increase will only impact about 10 percent of the almost 2.5 million contracted workers, will not start until 2015 and will only cover new contracts, not old ones.

Another action, or order, includes galvanizing “America’s leading CEO’s to help the long-term unemployed” and conducting a “government-wide receive of federal job training programs.”

Again—I applaud the action—but frankly, we just need more.

Another note from the president’s speech on Tuesday night is with education. Obama stated that he’s “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.”

In addition to his talk about changing how our kids are educated, Obama wants to include the nation’s youngest children in his “Race to the Top” education fund. That detail about increasing access to pre-K could mean additional testing for kids that parents may not be ready to tackle.

So many of our educational standards are based upon standardized testing that this type of move is sure to divide.

By dissecting the State of the Union, we’re merely picking a part a speech steeped in pomp and circumstance. The president hears his name announced, shakes hands, makes a speech, shakes hands and then goes home.

The speech is a night for political junkies to indulge; to practice gluttony without the food.

Still—judging by polls and opinion, the American people want details and action. Not just a speech.

-JH

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