While he gave President Barack Obama high marks for his address to Congress Tuesday night, longtime CSU political science professor John Straayer has no illusions about the partisan divisions that will challenge his work in the coming year.
â€I think it was an extraordinarily well-crafted and well-delivered speech,â€ Straayer said. â€œBut that is not going to mask the fact that much of what Obama is interested in doing requires collective action, and that is going to run headlong into the preferences of the Republican party, particularly the more conservative wing of the party.â€
Since the republicans took control of the House Representatives â€“â€“ 234-180 â€“â€“ in the November election, Obama has faced difficult compromises and contention regarding his signatureissues, including healthcare.
And while he touched on issues like healthcare and the Iraq war, in his second State of the Union address Obama laid out his four steps to build Americaâ€™s future: innovation, education, infrastructure and reduction of the national debt.Â
As Obama stressed the importance of innovation, he referred to protecting the planet and creating jobs through advances in clean energy technology.
To help pay for new-innovation developments, Obama asked Congress to eliminate the billions of taxpayer dollars currently being given to oil companies.
â€œI donâ€™t know if youâ€™ve noticed, but theyâ€™re (oil companies) doing just fine on their own,â€ Obama said. â€œSo instead of subsidizing yesterdayâ€™s energy, letâ€™s invest in tomorrowâ€™s.â€
In another effort to invest in the future, Obama mentioned the launch of Race to the Top, an education reform that challenges schools across the country to improve teacher quality and student achievement in exchange for federal grants.
In the place of No Child Left Behind, an act that sought to close the achievement gap among school-age children, this reform will be more flexible and focused on whatâ€™s best for children in public schools across the United States, Obama said.
With hopes of improving public schools across the nation, Obama also emphasized the need for more affordable higher education, mentioning a possible permanent $10,000 student tax credit for four years of college.
â€œObviously out of the four points, education was that one that stuck out to me,â€ said Kelly Carnal, president of CSUâ€™s College Republicans. â€œI would definitely be interested and intrigued to find out what the tax credit would entail, especially as a student who has funded my entire college education on my own.â€
As part of the third step in winning the future, the president proposed to â€œrebuild Americaâ€ by attracting new business to America and bringing a reliable high-speed rail system to 80 percent of the U.S. population within the next 25 years.
To tackle the national debt, Obama proposed to freeze annual domestic spending for the next five years. This freeze could ultimately decrease the deficit by an estimated $400 billion.
Some of these solutions may include cutting funds from community-action programs and military operations, in addition to the two-year federal pay freeze Obama already enacted.
But cutting domestic spending wonâ€™t be enough.
The bipartisan Fiscal Commission, created by the president last year, has made progress in handling the deficit.
â€œTheir (the bipartisan Fiscal Commission) conclusion is that the only way to tackle our deficit is to cut excessive spending wherever we find it â€“â€“ in domestic spending, defense spending, health care spending and spending through tax breaks and loopholes,â€ Obama said.
â€œThis means further reducing health care costs, including programs like Medicare and Medicaid, which are the single biggest contributor to our long-term deficit,â€ he added.
Senior Reporter Erin Udell can be reached at email@example.com.