A Year of Action — State of the Union 2014

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When President Obama concluded his fifth State of the Union speech last evening, following a tremendous standing ovation for Sergeant First Class Cory Remsburg, he urged United States’ citizens to have “our feet planted firmly in today but our eyes cast towards tomorrow.”  For many conservatives, this rhetoric struck fear of a executive order whirlwind in the pipeline, yet the truth revealed a more calculated, if not idealistic, agenda.

By: Adin Dobkin

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“it’s not enough to train today’s workforce. We also have to prepare tomorrow’s workforce…”

The President’s dedication towards a college education for all has never been an underplayed point of White House Press Offices.  That being said, an equal level of care is not typically afforded to non-four year degrees.  President Obama’s pledge of “connecting companies to community colleges that can help design training to fill their specific needs” shows a more realistic and practical approach to the higher education problem in the United States.  Furthermore, a balanced, yet educated workforce enables a stronger economic base on both micro and macroeconomic levels.

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“Say yes.  Give America a raise.”

The merits and disadvantages of specific economic policies will be debated until the end of time, especially when politics becomes involved.  Despite this fact, a number of reports, including one from the nonpartisan Economic Policy Institute (EPI), demonstrate that the gains from a hike in the minimum wage are more wide-ranging and significant than some previously believed.  The President’s imminent executive order sets a clear precedent for Congress and states who have not already implemented hikes of their own.

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“It should be the power of our vote, not the size of our bank account, that drives our democracy.”‘

There’s little question that President Obama’s nod to campaign finance reform is little more than a nice phrase.  Although he pursued plans for reform, these were dashed quite some time ago.  That being said, reform is likely to be a hot topic as his hopeful successors reach the limelight in coming years, especially with the inclusion of Elizabeth Warren – an outspoken advocate of the issue.  If the President continues with this current rhetoric, it could play a large role as the ’14 election cycle rolls through.

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“even as we actively and aggressively pursue terrorist networks…America must move off a permanent war footing.”

Whether or not true policies can or will be attained by the President’s pledge to remove the States from a permanent state of war, the words alone strike a particularly resonant chord for scholars of military strategy and history.  Many scholars agree that America has entered into a perpetual state of war.  Part of this problem stems from increasingly abstract enemies with a greater focus on irregular warfare, but the problem is also built into the U.S. ‘Iron Triangle‘ system.  Combating this ossification will undoubtedly be one of the hardest habits to break, but would yield immeasurable benefits for the country in terms of greater economic security and improved diplomatic relations.

For a full text of the speech, please visit NYTimes.com.