On Fat Tuesday, President Obama delivered his State of the Union address. The full text of the speech can be found here from the Atlantic. One thing that I noted was that Obama continued his campaign tradition of listing a number of personal stories. He listed everyone from Newtown to Blacksburg to Gabby Giffords, in attendance.
On the war, I was very pleasantly surprised with the statements that 34,000 troops will be removed from Afghanistan by early 2014, and that he proclaimed that, "And by the end of next year, our war in Afghanistan will be over." This is an incredibly bold statement, and it will be very interesting to see if this actually gets done, and if so, whether it is on time.
Another interesting thing was that Obama stated that he wants to raise the minimum wage to $9 per hour, and he also wants to tie it to the consumer price index. Obama also offered two other things on the economy, his "Fix-It-First" program and his "Partnership to Rebuild America." The former is a program to rebuild the infrastructure of America, and the latter is an effort to bring in private sector funding to offset taxpayer costs as well as to keep these proposals deficit-neutral.
When talking about the Affordable Care Act, he talked about slowing the growth of health care costs, as well as changing the way we pay for Medicare. It will be interesting to see how he responds to these things.
One oft maligned feature of Democrats' speeches are their insistence upon keeping things deficit-neutral by "getting rid of tax loopholes and deductions for the well-off and well-connected." While that is a great idea, I am not sure if these have ever been outlined, and by getting rid of things such as the corporate jet loophole, while noble, would get rid of a large piece of Obama and the rest of the Democratic Party's funding.
Lastly, Obama's final statement was on gun control. What I do not understand is why the second amendment is so rigid. With every other amendment, except for the Fourteenth (for good reason) as more maleable, why is there such rigidity when it comes to this one. Until stricter gun control is enacted, we will have more Newtowns or Blacksburgs or Auroras.
Overall, Obama took a very pro-government stance, and while many of his proposals will be looked at by Republicans with a very critical eye, he took a very fair but strong stance on his issues. Time will tell whether his statements will come to fruition, but if stricter gun control laws are enacted, then that would be enough for me.