Tonight is President Obama’s third State of the Union Address. As we watch the President’s remarks tonight, we will listen for several specific issues.
First, the JCPA is listening for the President’s proposals to accelerate job creation, economic growth and alleviate poverty. Unemployment remains unacceptably high at 8.5%. The JCPA is committed to strong public education system and job training programs, investments in clean and sustainable energy, and targeted employment efforts focused on vulnerable populations. But even an aggressive job growth strategy will take years to reduce unemployment and dent the growth in poverty. Meanwhile, one in six households struggles with hunger. The most powerful anti-hunger program is SNAP (the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, formerly Food Stamps), has kept 3.9 million people out of poverty. We will listen for the President’s discussion on safety-net programs like SNAP and if he renews his call for a 1-year extension of unemployment insurance.
Second is foreign policy. This week the European Union imposed a new round of sanctions against Iran. Additionally, the Arab League called on Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to resign. This is a pivotal time in the Middle East and we would like to hear the President’s long –term approach to the changes in the region.
Finally, we will listen for how the President addresses deficit reduction. The national debt will be a top priority for Congress over the next year. Only by putting partisanship aside will Congress and the President be able to find real solutions that lower the national debt without condemning millions to continued poverty.