By: Aishwarya Thakur
President Barack Obama presented his annual State of the Union Address on January 25, 2011. Each year the president is required by the Constitution to give Congress information on the State of the Union. Earlier a letter was written by the president but President Woodrow Wilson set a precedent by presenting the address in person.
Obama began by paying his respects to Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, who is recovering from a gunshot wound received in Tucson, Arizona. He continued by mentioning that cooperation between the Democrats and the Republicans would be necessary in the future for the nation to succeed.
Obama assured the nation that the economy is steadily growing, with the help of tax cuts passed in December. One million private-sector jobs were also created last year, which has slightly improved the unemployment rate.
However, Obama did realize that more work is yet to be done. He gave examples of other nations, such as China and India, which are now competing with the United States for jobs. They have started to educate more people, especially in math and science, making China home to the world’s largest private solar research facility and the world’s fastest computer. Currently, South Korea also has more internet access that the US. But the President encouraged his listeners, stating that America “still has the largest, most prosperous economy in the world.” He said that the US has the most successful companies, is the country that grants the most patents to inventors and entrepreneurs, and is the country with the world’s best colleges and universities.
Howewer, almost 25 percent of students don’t graduate from high school. Obama emphasized that over the next 10 years, jobs will require a higher education. He urged parents to set high expectations for their children and to encourage them to pursue college degrees. Fewer than 30 percent of Americans hold a college degree, which ranks ninth in the world. In addition, the Race to the Top program, established by Obama, has helped over 40 states improve their teaching and education standards. Obama further has plans to prepare 100,000 new teachers in the fields of science and math.
Obama is set on investing in biomedical research, information technology, and clean energy technology. He expects more jobs to be created from these ventures as well as a cleaner planet. He believes that the coming years will bring “our generation’s Sputnik moment,” referring to the time when the US beat the Soviets to the moon after the Soviets had launched Sputnik, a satellite, into space before the US. He also challenged the nation to have a million electric vehicles by 2015 and have clean energy sources provide 80 percent of electricity by 2035.
Countries are also further advanced than the US in not only education and technology, but also in infrastructure. Europe and Russia have better roads and railways. China also has faster trains now and is building new airports. To once again have the world’s leading infrastructure, the President proposes that more Americans should be put to work to build roads and railways, and the goal is to give 80 percent of Americans access to high-speed rail in 25 years.
The President also plans on reducing spending for the next five years to a minimal amount. This will mean major cuts, including increased taxes for the wealthiest two percent in the nation, but will allow further reduction of the cost of health care and elimination of the national debt, which has increased immensely since Obama was inaugurated in 2009.
The President concluded that the “state of the union is strong.” When Obama came into office, the country was at one of its lowest points. Over the past two years the economy has steadily been recovering and the country is on its way to bringing this nation to the top once again. The President encouraged Americans to keep their hopes up and urged Congress to take action on education, technology, and infrastructure, among other matters that need to be addressed in the US.