State of the Union 2012: The Challenge of Maintaining an “America Built to Last”

January 27, 2012

On Tuesday, Jan. 24, President Barack Obama gave the annual State of the Union address to the nation. His speech, “An America Built to Last,” covered a myriad of topics currently affecting our nation. Among the most referred to issues facing the nation was the President’s remarks on the state of the economy. As much as the State of the Union exists to serve as an update to the American people, this year’s address, as any other, was simply a recap and statement on the issues at hand and what should be done to alleviate current challenges. In a time when Congress is as divided as ever, and as we are thrown in the midst of a presidential campaign season, it remains to be seen whether our state of the union will improve.

President Obama alluded to the broken nature of the way Congress works and its “corrosive” relationship with the influence of money. Bridges need to be built on the divide between DC politics and the rest of the nation. The way Congress does business can more often than not be ineffective, and rather than solving issues, it simply slows them down.

Further, the President remarked on our national security. Obama opened his remarks by stating that for the first time in twenty years, Osama bin Laden is not a threat to our nation; moreover, for the first time in nine years, there are no Americans fighting in Iraq. Obama also referenced the events of the Arab Spring and citizens of the Middle East and North Africa standing up for rights of freedom, democracy and human dignity. The regional “wave of change” must be met with anticipation and hope that human dignity for all, regardless of religion, gender or background will be met; furthermore, change in the region must also be considered when dealing with security issues. The President reaffirmed America’s security commitment to “our citizens, our friends, and our interests,” in the face of the threat of a nuclear armed Iran. MPAC has always maintained a position that the region as a whole should be free of nuclear arms, and as the President remarked that he will consider all options on the table, we should pursue a non-military option to ridding the entire region of weapons.

The commitment to our interests abroad was coupled with Obama’s commitment to maintaining our interests here at home. The bulk of the President’s speech was on the state of our economy and the inconsistent tax policies directed at big banks and companies versus the average American. He stated that with the Attorney General’s office, he seeks to create a special unit to investigate and crack down on large scale fraud and protect people’s investments; further, there would need to be a creation of another unit to investigate faulty lending practices which led to our nation’s egregious housing crisis.

Obama emphatically called for common sense when dealing with the economy, and more specifically the burden of taxes: “call this class warfare all you want. But asking a billionaire to pay at least as much as his secretary in taxes? Most Americans would call that common sense.”

Regardless of what side of the aisle one sits on, the President’s State of the Union address did not paint a completely rosy picture of the current status of our nation. Whereas he mentioned the positive work our country continues to accomplish, there is still much to be done in maintaining an America built to last.

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