The State of the Union is an annual address given by the President to Congress. It is an opportunity for the President to outline his agenda for the year, as well as give the condition of the country. The address is required of the President based upon Article II, Section 3 in the United States Constitution which states that “He shall from time to time give to Congress information of the State of the Union and recommend to their Consideration such measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient.” The tradition of formally addressing the Congress was discontinued by Thomas Jefferson, who sent formal missives, but was reestablished by Woodrow Wilson.
President Obama delivered his third State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress on Tuesday, January 24. He made many points throughout the speech, some with applause and some with loud boos from the audience. Obama touched on many of the issues facing our country in the past years, and those we will be facing in the future.
Special guests who were invited to sit in the First Lady’s box at the address included Steve Jobs widow, Laurene Powell Jobs, and Warren Buffett’s secretary, Debbie Bosanek. She was in attendance as a result of the tax debate and billionaire Buffet’s complaint that he pays a lower tax rate than his secretary. The guest list for the State of the Union has become a sort of ritual, with the list often reflecting the themes of the address.
One highlight of the speech came when Obama revealed that an EPA regulation from over 40 years ago, which regulated dairy farms at the same level as petroleum and forced dairy farmers to spend money to prove they were capable of containing a milk spill, that had been eliminated. “With a rule like that, I guess it was worth crying over spilled milk,” Obama said.
Obama called for the implementation of the “Buffett rule,” where if a person makes over $1 million annually, they should be taxed at a rate no less than 30 percent. Sen. Tom Coburn was referenced in this part of the speech on the opinion that Washington needs to stop subsidizing millionaires and offering them tax deductions.
Jobs were a big topic for this address. The President called for the country to help train Americans in skills that will lead directly to jobs. Obama wants to give community colleges the resources they need to be community career centers to teach skills that are in high demand.
One major announcement that Obama made was the creation of a Trade Enforcement Unit. The unit was formed to investigate unfair trade practices in countries around the world, with inspections of goods crossing the border in order for counterfeit and unsafe goods from entering the country.
Another unit was announced, this time being for the financial sector. The Financial Crimes Unit would serve to crack down on fraud, and implement penalties for a fraud count. This is to help protect people’s investments and the institutions following the laws.
A third unit in the works is for the protection of homeowners against abusive lending and packaging of mortgages. It would also help get assistance to homeowners, as well as a plan to help them save up to $3,000 a year on their mortgage.
In relation to schools around the country, Obama requested that the mandatory school age be upped to 18 or until graduation. He called for Congress to prevent the hike in student loan interest in July, when they are expected to double, as well as an extension of the tuition tax credit and an increase in the number of work-study jobs.
In the wake of the rejection of Keystone XL pipeline, Obama introduced the clean energy initiative announcing that the department of the Navy will make a large renewable energy purchase of one gigawatt and requesting the Department of the Interior to permit for 10 gigawatts of renewable projects by the end of the year, enough to power nearly three million homes.
The 2012 State of the Union was followed by The Republican Response, which was delivered by Indiana Governor, Mitch Daniels.