The annual State of the Union address has become a way for the American public to stay ‘in the know’ with the priorities of their government. But just in case you haven’t been keeping up with President Barack Obama’s “On The Road” tour leading up to the address, the CCTV America Digital Media team compiled a list of five things to listen for during the president’s address to the nation.
For his seventh State of the Union, the president decided to do things a little bit differently by offering the American people a preview to this joint session of Congress. As the president went on a cross-country road trip two weeks before the address, he laid the framework for what would be the body of his speech. Here’s what we got from it.
No. 1: Two years of college, free
The gist: The president is proposing a way for students to attend two years of community college free of charge. The plan would save a student an estimated $3,800 in college tuition per year and could help as many as nine million students per year.
There are stipulations. Students must attend a community college at least half-time and maintain a 2.5 GPA and make steady progress towards completion. The plan also requires that colleges from all 50 states jump on board and allow credit transfers from other universities and adopt reform policies.
What the president is pushing for: Obama is hoping that Congress can help move this plan along by providing federal funding that would cover three-quarters of the cost of a community college tuition.
No. 2: A ‘fairer’ tax code for the middle class
The gist: It’s time to re-vamp the tax code, or at least that’s what the president thinks. The goal is to close off what the White House is dubbing the “The Trust Fund Loophole” that they say gets wealthy Americans off the hook from paying more taxes than their middle class counterparts.
The president also hopes to return the capital gains rate to 28 percent and put larger borrowing fees on financial firms. The president has said the money saved by implementing these reforms will help working families cover the cost of child care, education, and retirement.
What the president is pushing for: Obama wants what he calls the ‘unpatriotic tax loophole’ closed “for good” and has proposed a plan to do so. He has the Democrats and a few Republicans in Congress on his side, but he’s looking to gain the support from the rest of Congress Tuesday night.
No. 3: Net neutrality and the BroadbandUSA initiative
The gist: Keeping in line with his past net neutrality plan, the president is working to increase broadband services to more Americans. The president has said that broadband could be more affordable if laws serving special interests that limit broadband were squashed.
The president has announced a new initiative through the Department of Commerce, BroadbandUSA, that would support widespread, affordable broadband through tech support online and within communities. Meanwhile, the Department of Agriculture is working on new loan and grant opportunities that support rural broadband providers.
What the president is pushing for: Obama hopes that Congress can help put a stop to policy barriers that limit broadband connectivity and competition. He also hopes to gain more support for his Broadband Opportunity Council, which works to increase broadband speed in rural communities.
No. 4: The Affordable Care Act (and how it’s working)
The gist: Axing Obamacare is one of Republican’s main priorities, with plans to cut away at it piecemeal in the new session of Congress with some support from the other side of the aisle. But Obama will want to show how one of his signature initiatives is working. During the course of the president’s past two weeks on the road, the White House has been pushing to make known “The Faces of Health Care.” These series of blog posts aim to tell the stories of real Americans who have had their lives changed by the coverage they’ve received from the Affordable Care Act.
What the president is pushing for: Obama often uses anecdotes of real Americans and the struggles they face, so it’s probably not surprising that he’d use this strategy again in the weeks leading up to the actual address to pull at the heart-strings of the American public. But the question then becomes how likely it will be that this strategy will work on the members of Congress.
No. 5: An improved economy
The gist: Of course no State of the Union address would be complete without looking back on what has been achieved in the past year. Obama will likely point to 2014 being the best year for job growth since the 1990s, and that the unemployment rate now sits at 5.6 percent.
What the president is pushing for:
“America’s resurgence is real. Our job now is to make sure that every American feels that they’re a part of our country’s comeback. That’s what I’ll focus on in my State of the Union: how to build on our momentum with rising wages, growing incomes and a stronger middle class. And I’ll call on this new Congress to join me in putting aside the political games and finding areas where we agree so we can deliver for the American people.” – President Obama, weekly address on Jan. 17, 2015
What’s going on tonight?
Want to keep up with the State of the Union online? You can follow the buzz and live commentary by checking out the #SOTU hashtag on Twitter tonight. Surprise, surprise: it’s trending.