The Straight Dope: President Obama’s 2015 Agenda (According to the State of the Union)

Obama state of the union

There is A LOT to cover here. So let’s get started.



We will try and make this easy as possible to digest. There is A LOT of information here. We put all of President Obama’s proposed agendas into three categories from his State of the Union Address last night, which are pretty self-explanatory.



Will Probably Get Passed

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– Trade Promotion Authority: Essentially these would be new trade deals with Asian and other Pacific Island nations. It would provide specific guidelines to create new trade deals with these countries. While there is some opposition among a few Democrats, the majority of Republicans look to be on board. If we were ranking legislation most likely to get passed this session, this would be on the top of the list.


– War on ISIS: If Trade Promotion Authority is 1a, this issue would be 1b as most likely to get passed power rankings. President Obama wants legal authorization from Congress to go after ISIS targets in a meaningful manner. Until now he had been using military authorization given by Congress back in 2001, after the 9-11 attacks. Considering this is questionable legal ground, President Obama wants new authorization from Congress. Even though there are a few opponents from both Democrats and Republicans, it’s hard to see President Obama not getting authorization from Congress.


– New Cybersecurity Initiatives: Specifically this is referring to the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act. It states that companies that share online threats with the US government will not be liable to privacy lawsuits. In the past the bill has always been a controversial one among many civil-liberties groups, but considering the recent strew of cyber-attacks on corporations, it’s hard to not see this passed by Congress.



It’s a Toss-Up




– The Precision Medicine Initiative: To be honest, this is one of his least realized agendas of the bunch. It’s a new initiative in medicine designed to target diseases based on a person’s genetic make-up. Many physicians are calling these treatments the future of medicine. You could see Republicans get behind this initiative, because it could drive the price of medical procedures down, but it completely depends on how it will be paid for.


– Net Neutrality and Broadband Access: This one is pretty clear cut. President Obama wants the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to uphold the idea of Net Neutrality and to change laws dealing with local municipalities not being able to use tax payer money for broadband networks (essentially allowing the idea of broadband to become a public utility resource like electricity). The battle here is with the Obama administration and telecommunication companies. Considering how some Republicans feel about Net Neutrality and the power telecommunication companies hold in Washington, this could go either way.


– Lifting the Cuba Embargo: This one has gotten traction in the last couple of weeks after President Obama had announced the idea before the holidays. While he has taken steps in the form of executive actions, only Congress can finally lift the 50-year-old embargo on Cuba. Many prominent Republicans like Sen. Marco Rubio and Sen. Lindsey Graham are against the notion of lifting the embargo, but enough in Congress like Sen. Rand Paul feel the time has come. Don’t be too surprised if it gets lifted.



Not a Chance in Hell

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– Infrastructure Plan: Over the last few days, Congress has been trying to come up with a bill that would maintain the highway and transit system. The only problem, The Highway Trust Fund almost is out of money. President Obama’s plan calls for raising corporate taxes to fund infrastructure revitalization. You basically lost any Republican after “raising corporate taxes.”


– Two Years of Free Community College: Simple the federal government pays 75% of tuition, while the state pays for 25%. It’s paid for by closing various tax plans and consolidating others that wealthier Americans take advantage of. One of these tax plans is the 529 college savings plan, which many consider it to be a tax shelter for wealthier Americans. Too much business interest in these tax plans to get passed.


– Raising the Minimum Wage: President Obama wants to raise the minimum wage from $7.25-$10.10 per hour. Republicans feel that increasing the minimum wage would not help many families or the overall economy since less than 5% of all workers are at or below the current standard.


– Everyone to Have Paid Sick Leave: This comes into the form of the Healthy Families Act that he’s asked Congress to sign. Whether for a new child or sick relative, all individuals will have 6 weeks of paid sick leave under President Obama’s plan. This would be paid for by new corporate taxes, which the Republicans won’t pass.


– The Wealth Tax: Essentially this would raise taxes on banks, wealthy investors, and those getting a sizable inheritance by winning the genetic lottery. The people that are targeted here – as Chris Rock would put it – are the wealthy, not the rich. The Obama administration would like this money to pay for a variety of programs including infrastructure repair. Yeah… there is no way Republicans pass this tax raise in Congress.


– New Sanctions on Iran: In one of the few victories for the Obama administration in this column, President Obama stated last night that any new sanctions on Iran would greatly hurt the current nuclear talks going on. Considering President Obama has the power to veto, it’s safe to say that this won’t happen.


– Any Climate Change Policy:

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(Photo Credits:, Google Images)


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