State of the Union 2014: Year of Action; De-escalation

Published: Jan 29, 2014 11:41am EST
By Rick Rinker, Political Editor for Konsume Politics

Please Note: This article was updated Jan 29, 2014 @ 12:05pm EST

 

Last night the president addressed the nation, outlining his agenda for 2014 on topics ranging from minimum wage, environmental protections, immigration and foreign policy. Using a more moderate tone than previous years, the president took a ‘carrot and stick’ approach urging the passage of legislation, but threatening executive orders if congress doesn’t.

The speech began at exactly 9:15pm (EST), and lasted for just over an hour. He began by signaling an end to the troop presence in Afghanistan and continued to list a number of achievements since he took office. Some of those achievements:

  • Lowest Unemployment in 5 years
  • Rebounding Housing Market
  • Manufacturing has added jobs
  • More oil in US than from overseas
  • Deficit cut in half
  • Business leaders declare china no longer best place to invest

The president then went on to claim that the United States is better positioned for the 21st century than any other country on earth. He then said that the decision congress faces is whether they will help or hinder the progress that has been made.

The administration’s focus was then described as speeding up growth, strengthening the middle class and building ladders of upward mobility for the middle class. However, one of the big announcements was the decree that all employers with a contract to do federal work pay its employees a minimum wage of $10.10 per hour.

The president then sought to sell the affordable care act, and unarm opponents in congress, who have openly attacked the bill and sought to dismantle key pieces of the controversial legislation.

In an interview Sen. Ted Cruz criticized what he called an “Imperial Presidency,” and blasted the president’s threat of executive order as well as the ‘employer mandate’ exemption the president granted to large employers. Cruz says that the president has no authority to issue such exemptions.

On the topic of foreign policy, Syrian opposition leaders were angered at the president’s brief remarks on Syria stating that his speech did not go far enough, and that action is desperately needed in their country.

A move that was largely welcomed by both sides of the aisle was Obama’s reaffirmed commitment to negotiations with Iran, which he threatened to veto any piece of legislation that imposes additional sanctions on the nation.

Additionally on foreign policy, he reaffirmed his commitment to the Asian-Pacific which suffered a super-typhoon in the Philippines and was a nod to Japan as concern in the region grows over a rising Chinese influence and the threat of their growing military power.

Republicans have largely criticized the president’s threat of executive action by claiming the president holds no authority to make changes to social security, immigration or tax policies. With that said, the post-SOTU rhetoric is noticeably less fiery than it has been in previous years.

Is this a signal that tensions in Washington will be reduced as we enter a mid-term election cycle? The answer is almost certainly no; however nobody should be surprised to see an increase in bi-partisan legislation in 2014.


 

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Rick Rinker
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