Friday, May 24, 2024

Comentarios from Maria: The State of the Union is Strong


In his annual State of the Union address, President Obama was bold and inspiring, assuring us that the state of the Union is strong. The President challenged the Republican Party, but was conciliatory and hopeful in tone. The speech really should have been called “The Audacity of Progress.” With a new pep in his step and a rising approval rating in the polls, the President at last spoke more freely – more assertively, about economic progress that has been slowly revealing itself to the nation over the past several months.

More importantly, President Obama described his powerful vision of how the middle class can partake of that progress. He laid out sensible proposals and tools that will not only combat the inequality in our country, but also assure upward mobility into the middle class for everyone. The President’s plan, triples Child Care Tax Credit, provides a $500 tax credit to working couples, advocates paid sick leave, helps families pay down their mortgage and incentivizes workers to save for retirement. Taken altogether, these pragmatic proposals will strengthen millions of families in this resurging economy.

President Obama also recognizes that access to education, especially to higher education, opens the doors to whomever is ready to learn and work. For that reason, the President will fight for free community college for the first two years. For millions of Latino students, community colleges are the primary access to higher education, but many still face the reality of the exorbitant cost of education.

President Obama was clear: he will not allow student debt to derail the dreams of millions.

Many of these proposals have had GOP support in the past. These are not liberal proposals. But they are progressive because they will bring us more progress.  And yes, they will cost money which means that those with the most means who have been able to shield their financial gains with exotic measures, should now contribute a bit more.

The President’s vision could not be more clear or concrete, and the Republicans have a decision to make: either work with the President, or return to being the Party that lost the White House in 2008 and 2012. Unfortunately, their actions indicate that they will continue obstructing the President. Republicans are ready to validate the most extreme voices in their party who spew hate – Congressman Steve King of Iowa in fact tweeted on Tuesday, “#Obama perverts ‘prosecutorial discretion by inviting a deportable to sit in place of honor at #SOTU w/ 1st Lady. I should sit with Alito.”

This problematic path will result in the inauguration of another Democratic president in 2016, which is fine by me. But there is still time for Republicans if they truly wish to compete for our votes.

The President laid out the Audacity of Progress and an agenda for the future. For the sake of the nation and the survival of their own party, Republicans should have the audacity to at least meet him halfway.

This piece originally appeared in Spanish in the Washington Hispanic.