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"Still The Right Thing To Do": Obama's Final State Of The Union

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Photo: Evan Vucci/AP Photo.
In last night's State of the Union address, President Obama named four main points for America to look for in both his final year in office, and afterwards. Between the economy, climate change, and the need for national security, the President was both honest about the challenges looking forward, but also confident that the American people would overcome any future obstacles. Here are the four biggest points of the speech.

"First, how do we give everyone a fair shot at opportunity and security in this new economy?"

Despite coming into office in the midst of one of the worst recessions in recent memory, the American economy has bounced back in an incredible way.”We’ve made progress,” he said. “But we need to make more.”

He addressed one of the most basic factors of economic growth— education. “We have to make college affordable for every American,” he said to enormous applause. “Because no hardworking student should be stuck in the red.” Though he didn’t address relief for the current student debt crisis, he proposed ways to ameliorate it in the future. He called on legislators to cut the cost of college, and suggested he might support some of the 2016 presidential candidates’ pledges to provide two years of community college at no cost to every student.

"Second, how do we make technology work for us, and not against us — especially when it comes to solving urgent challenges like climate change?"

The Obama administration has been a part of one of the most serious international agreements on climate change in recent years. At the G20 summit in Turkey in November, more than two hundred nations agreed to cut carbon emissions in a last-ditch effort to save the planet — yes, things are at the last-ditch point.

“Look, if anybody still wants to dispute the science around climate change, have at it. You’ll be pretty lonely, because you’ll be debating our military, most of America’s business leaders, the majority of the American people, almost the entire scientific community, and 200 nations around the world who agree it’s a problem and intend to solve it.”

But perhaps the most touching point was when he called for more resources to find better treatments for cancer — he named Vice President Biden "Mission Control" of that fight. Biden lost his son, Beau Biden, to cancer early last year.

"Third, how do we keep America safe and lead the world without becoming its policeman?"

After more than a decade of strife in the middle east, Obama did not commit to fighting a new war. “Masses of fighters on the back of pickup trucks and twisted souls plotting in apartments or garages pose an enormous danger to civilians and must be stopped. But they do not threaten our national existence. That’s the story ISIL wants to tell; that’s the kind of propaganda they use to recruit.”

And anyone who thinks that “boots on the ground” is the only way to defeat terrorism? “If you doubt America’s commitment — or mine — to see that justice is done, ask Osama bin Laden.”

"And finally, how can we make our politics reflect what’s best in us, and not what’s worst?"

In the final moments of his speech, Obama took the time to reframe many things that his opponents have called out as weakness to illustrate strength, whether it’s working for climate change, giving foreign aid, or even— as he has promised for eight years— closing Guantanamo. “That’s why we need to reject any politics that targets people because of race or religion. This isn’t a matter of political correctness. It’s a matter of understanding what makes us strong.“
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