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Obama Addresses State of the Union

January 31, 2014—In his fifth State of the Union address, President Obama Jan. 28 presented what he described as “a set of concrete, practical proposals to speed up growth, strengthen the middle class, and build new ladders of opportunity into the middle class.” But the president also touched on issues relating to higher education, innovation, and health care.

The president said “We’re shaking up our system of higher education to give parents more information, and colleges more incentives to offer better value, so that no middle-class kid is priced out of a college education. We’re offering millions the opportunity to cap their monthly student loan payments to ten percent of their income, and I want to work with Congress to see how we can help even more Americans who feel trapped by student loan debt.” 

Emphasizing his commitment to science, the president said “We know that the nation that goes all-in on innovation today will own the global economy tomorrow. This is an edge America cannot surrender. Federally-funded research helped lead to the ideas and inventions behind Google and smartphones. That’s why Congress should undo the damage done by last year’s cuts to basic research so we can unleash the next great American discoverywhether it’s vaccines that stay ahead of drug-resistant bacteria, or paper-thin material that’s stronger than steel.”

The president also called on Congress to pass a patent reform bill “that allows our businesses to stay focused on innovation, not costly, needless litigation.”

Linking financial security to access to health care, the president said, “For decades, few things exposed hard-working families to economic hardship more than a broken health care system. And in case you haven’t heard, we’re in the process of fixing that.” He said that because of the Affordable Care Act, “more than three million Americans under age 26 have gained coverage under their parents’ plans.”  And he added, “More than nine million Americans have signed up for private health insurance or Medicaid coverage.”

He challenged Republicans to present substantive alternatives, saying, “But I know that the American people aren’t interested in refighting old battles. So again, if you have specific plans to cut costs, cover more people, and increase choicetell America what you’d do differently. Let’s see if the numbers add up…. We all owe it to the American people to say what we’re for, not just what we’re against.”

Noting that some of his proposals will require congressional action, the president said, “I’m eager to work with all of you. But America does not stand still and neither will I. So wherever and whenever I can take steps without legislation to expand opportunity for more American families, that’s what I’m going to do.” 

As examples of administration initiatives, the president pointed to the First Lady’s Let’s Move partnership to reduce child obesity, the Joining Forces alliance that encourages employers to hire or train veterans and military spouses, and a recent College Opportunity Summit where 150 universities, businesses, and nonprofits made concrete commitments to reduce inequality in access to higher education.


Dave Moore
Senior Director, Government Relations
Telephone: 202-828-0559


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Jason Kleinman
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