State of the Union address outlines Obama’s policy plans

President Barack Obama covered a breadth of issues facing America in the State of the Union address on Tuesday Feb. 12, focusing on the economy, as well as immigration, gun control, infrastructure and foreign policy.

“The American people don’t expect government to solve every problem,” Obama said. “They don’t expect those of us in this chamber to agree on every issue, but they do expect us to put the nation’s interests before party.”

Obama began with the budget, saying that through spending cuts and an increase in taxes on the wealthiest 1 percent of Americans, the nation is more than halfway towards the goal of $4 trillion in deficit reduction that he said is vital to restabilizing America’s finances.

“Most of us agree that a plan to reduce the deficit must be part of our agenda,” Obama said. “But let’s be clear: Deficit reduction alone is not an economic plan.”

Obama discussed the Medicare program, saying he is committed to reforming the program without cutting funding.

Obama also addressed climate change, saying that America must listen to scientific evidence and act soon to protect future generations. He said he would turn to his cabinet and take executive action if Congress did not choose to act.

Additionally, Obama proposed a ‘Fix it First’ program to put America to work on rebuilding its roads and bridges, as well as modern ports, pipelines and schools, to prove “there is no better place to do business than right here in America.”

He also called for Congress to reconsider the Higher Education Act for “affordability and value” as determinants for federal aid for colleges.

Further, Obama called for immigration reform, arguing that “now is the time to get it done.”

“We know what needs to be done,” Obama said. “Send me a comprehensive immigration reform bill in the next few months, and I will sign it right away.”

Obama also told Congress that the war in Afghanistan is coming to close, stating that 34,000 troops will be removed from Afghanistan this year.

“By the end of next year our war in Afghanistan will be over” he said.

In terms of foreign policy, Obama reasserted what he said is America’s commitment to enabling freedom around the world.

“In defense of freedom, we’ll remain the anchor of strong alliances, from the Americas to Africa, from Europe to Asia,” Obama said. “In the Middle East, we will stand with citizens as they demand their universal rights, and support stable transitions to democracy.”

The last issue Obama addressed was gun control, noting that it had been two months since the tragedy in Newtown, Conn.

“This is not the first time this country has debated to reduce gun violence, but this time is different,” Obama said. “Senators of both parties are working together on tough new laws to prevent anyone from buying guns for resale to criminals. Each of these proposals deserves a vote in Congress.”