Scrutinizing the State of the Union

Jason DeSanto, senior lecturer at Northwestern University School of Law, picks apart President Barack Obama's sixth State of the Union address. What were the areas of focus? What are the implications for the year ahead? 

Watch the 2015 State of the Union address below and read it here.

Read some highlights from the speech.

“The shadow of crisis has passed, and the State of the Union is strong.”

President Obama’s State of the Union speech signified a turning point from the years of recession recovery. While we’re not done mending our wounds, the president had more to show for his work this year than in previous addresses. Towards the end of his speech, he called for bi-partisan cooperation to tackle the foreign and domestic challenges the country still faces.

“Tonight, after a breakthrough year for America, our economy is growing and creating jobs at the fastest pace since 1999.”

The economy is unsurprisingly an omnipotent subject in America’s mind. The president boasted that over the past five years, the country has created more than 11 million new jobs. The number of U.S. jobs is higher than it’s ever been since the start of the recession in December 2007. There was an average of nearly 250,000 jobs created per month in 2014 alone.

Middle-Class Economics

“Today, we're the only advanced country on Earth that doesn't guarantee paid sick leave or paid maternity leave to our workers.”

President Obama stated that 43 million Americans work without paid sick leave. This is one of the president’s objectives in championing “middle-class economics.” Two other goals are equal income for men and women as well as a higher minimum wage. President Obama challenged members of Congress to raise a family on less than $15,000 if they objected to a wage hike.

The president also gave a shout-out to Chicago and Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s education initiatives when calling for free community college.

Battles Abroad

“Six years ago, nearly 180,000 American troops served in Iraq and Afghanistan. Today, fewer than 15,000 remain.”

The loudest applause came when the president honored the “9/11 Generation” of troops for their service.

Although the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL or the Islamic State) is on the minds of many Americans, the president didn’t spend too much time on the terrorist group. He did inquire Congress to pass a resolution giving him authorization to use force against ISIL.