Opinion: An optimistic oversight
By Kerrin Murray
Delivering his fifth State of the Union address to members of Congress Tuesday evening, President Barack Obama stated that one of his main goals for 2014 is to make it “a year of action,” and announced that, if necessary, he would utilize his own executive authority to make that happen.
Obama’s approval rating as he entered the House chamber to deliver his somewhat lackluster wish list for the coming year stands at a measly 43 percent, according to an NBC News poll.
The annual State of the Union address, if delivered correctly, can be a tool a president can utilize to revive the nation’s outlook on America’s future, as well as the opinions of its citizens on the job he is doing.
Obama was careful in his speech only to use the word “promise” twice. Don’t be fooled, however – he still managed to be misleading.
Instead of addressing the rollout failure of the AFFordable Care Act, Obama was quick to defend it, with false reassurances. “More than 9 million Americans have signed up for private health insurance or Medicaid coverage,” said Obama.
That 9 million FIgure of which you speak, Mr. President, is not an altogether total net gain. You see, with your health care law, many individuals who already had insurance found that – despite what you promised – they couldn’t keep it.
To add to this already daunting number of people who have found ObamaCare to be more of a burden than an aid, millions more who are provided health care through their employers will be dropped this year, as some on-the-job health care policies provided will be deemed illegal under this new law.
ObamaCare requires small group employers to provide costly beneFIts, and when their current plans expire, these small groups will need to decide whether to drop coverage entirely or pay for these additional and pricey beneFIts.
One of the biggest themes of his speech was inequality, and how his “set of concrete, practical proposals” will move this country in a more positive direction by “speed[ing] up growth” and focusing on the middle class.
Most speciFIcally, Obama claims his proposals will “do more to help the entrepreneurs and small business owners who create most new jobs in America.”
One way the president plans to help these middle class and working families is to “issue an executive order requiring federal contractors to pay their federally-funded employees a fair wage of at least $10.10 an hour.”
In last year’s State of the Union address, Obama called for the minimum wage to be raised from $7.25 to $9.
As much as some might FInd raising the minimum wage an attractive plan of action, I do not foresee this plan working – last year’s 24.1 percent increase didn’t come to fruition. How does the president think asking for a now 39.3 percent increase is realistic, and more importantly, something that can be accomplished if he couldn’t manage to pass last year’s more modest proposal?
Forcing businesses – that are already struggling to stay aFLoat in this economy – to increase their minimum wage will put more people out of the labor market. And those businesses that can afford to raise their pay salary will be hard pressed to become more selective when it comes to hiring.
But, according to Obama, the nation should be optimistic about the job market because “more than 8 million new jobs have been created in the past four years.” However, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, only a net gain of 2.4 million jobs has taken place during his presidency.
One of the significant and most notable lines of the evening, his closing statement, is something both sides of the aisle and every citizen of this country wants to see: “A rising America where honest work is plentiful and communities are strong; where prosperity is widely shared and opportunity for all lets us go as far as our dreams and toil will take us.”
I believe in what Obama said: “If we work together ... I know it’s within our reach.” But I also believe that we, together, are capable of much more than his proposals – which will only diminish the prospects for our nation’s future prosperity.