Reflections on Obama’s SOTU

With an approval rating reaching 50 percent, President Obama strolled confidently into the House of Representatives chamber to deliver his sixth State of the Union address.

“The shadow of crisis has passed,” President Obama said, “and the State of the Union is strong.”

Although his Democratic party lost the majority in the Senate, President Obama executed his address with eloquence. Facing a Republican controlled Congress, President Obama issued possible points of bipartisanship – trade and cybersecurity – while reminding Republicans of his presidential power of the veto.

Bipartisan or otherwise, here are several issues that Obama addressed in his speech:

Security:

Rising from relative obscurity, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) have recently dominated news headlines around the world. ISIS threatens the peace of not only our United States, but also the peace of those around the world.

Attacks on schools in Pakistan, terror on the streets of Paris, the crisis involving two Japanese hostages; these are only a few reasons President Obama has called on Congress to authorize the use of military force to combat and destroy the terrorist group.

“We will continue to hunt down terrorists and dismantle their networks,” the president said. “And we reserve the right to act unilaterally, as we’ve done relentlessly since I took office to take out terrorists who pose a direct threat to us and our allies.”

The U.S. will lead the coalition against ISIS with drones, intelligence, and Special Forces. But wait, is something missing here? Right, ground troops. The more heads on the ground to defeat ISIS, the better. But with the growing number of troops from the growing coalition, we hope that the U.S. won’t need to send any more soldiers into another battle zone.

Sony’s hack showed the vulnerability of the nation’s cyber security. President Obama called on Congress to pass legislation allowing for the combined efforts of governments and businesses to combat online threats.

“I urge this Congress to finally pass the legislation we need to better meet the evolving threat of cyberattacks, combat identity theft, and protect our children’s information,” President Obama said.

Almost everything can be accessed through the Internet and therefore, improving the country’s online defenses must take priority. A pre-installed Norton simply isn’t good enough. Cybersecurity rises as a bipartisan issue that may bring greater cooperation from both parties in future affairs (but don’t hold your breath.

Internet access:

Nineteen states allow municipalities to set up their own broadband infrastructure, our beautiful state of Texas being one of them. Working on a proposal that could greatly increase the Internet speed across the nation, President Obama pushes the Federal Communications Commission to override states’ laws inhibiting full speed networks.

“I intend to protect a free and open Internet, extend its reach to every classroom, and every community, and help folks build the fastest networks,” President Obama said.

Free Internet: is that too much to ask for? There are still Congressmen and Senators that insists on taxing Internet speed. However, true to his word, President Obama along with the Federal Communications Commission, are fully embracing and backing Title II of the Telecommunications Act to regulate Internet providers as common carriers.

Environment:

As record setting temperatures continue to rise, President Obama directs his attention to Republicans when he calls for new policies to combat climate change. With increasing temperatures and China’s agreement to a commitment in decreasing pollution, 2015 appears to be the year for new laws to improve the planet’s environment.

“The Pentagon says that climate change poses immediate risks to our national security,” the president said. “We should act like it.”

Last year I would’ve argued against any environmental policies. But with China on board to make an effort and reduce pollution, now appears to be the best time to implement policies to slow climate change.

The struggle will be great but the benefits of safeguarding our environment for our generation, our children’s generation, and our grandchildren’s generation will outweigh the costs.

Foreign relations:

President Obama recently announced a new policy aimed to end the embargo with Cuba that spanned five decades and 10 presidents.

The proposal allows for greater economic and diplomatic opportunities between the United States and Cuba. Looser travel restrictions will allow for a limited number of Americans to do business in Cuba, but tourism remains locked. A re-opened U.S. embassy and an ambassador to the country signify the dawn of friendlier relations with the small island.

“Our shift in Cuba policy has the potential to end a legacy of mistrust in our hemisphere; removes a phony excuse for restrictions in Cuba; stands up for democratic values; and extends the hand of friendship to the Cuban people,” said Obama.

It’s about time. I always felt that the embargo on Cuba was a way of dealing with the problems of the communists’ regime, without actually dealing with it. You can’t ignore a problem, you have to solve it, and I’m happy to see that President Obama stepped up to the plate.

President Obama also threatened a veto if Congress passes sanctions on Iran while negotiations remain in progress to remove the country’s nuclear program. Congress grows impatient, but President Obama holds steadfast in his hopes for the negotiations to close.

“There are no guarantees that negotiations will succeed,” President Obama said. “And I keep all options on the table to prevent a nuclear Iran.”

We all know the power of a nuclear warhead, that’s why we want as few countries as possible to have them. If we can reduce the number of nuclear programs in the Middle East without firing a single bullet, I’m all for it.

There they are, the 4 issues that I found most important in President Obama’s SOTU address.

With only two more years in office, President Obama faces seemingly unconquerable obstacles. A Republican led Senate and House of Representatives confront the president, his ambitions, and his legacy.

In two years, we will find out how well he fared.

And in the words of the president: “Turn the page” for sports.

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