Obama to highlight economy in State of the Union address

Photo by Charles Dharapak/ Associated Press

Photo by Charles Dharapak/ Associated Press

Job creation and economic growth are expected to be main topics in President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address. Gun control, immigration policy and gay rights are also expected to make an appearance in tonight’s speech.

Obama previewed his address to House Democrats last Thursday, saying he would speak “about making sure that we’re focused on job creation here in the United States of America.” He said he would call for improvements in education, the development of clean energy technology and reducing the deficit.

Marquette College Democrats president Zach Bowman, a sophomore in the College of Arts & Sciences, said he agrees with the president’s approach and the importance he is placing on the economy.

“I expect jobs to be foremost in that discussion,” Bowman said. “But he’ll also speak to his commitment to investing in our nation’s future.”

He also predicted the issue of sequestered budget cuts as a specific issue Obama will mention.

“He knows that the sequestering will only do additional harm to our fragile economy,” Bowman said. “So we may see him declare his continued support for an alternative that simultaneously reduces the debt and stimulates growth.”

With millions of Americans still out of work and the unemployment rate at 7.9 percent, the economy is still the issue about which Americans are most concerned, according to a Jan. 14 CNN poll. As a result, foreign policy is expected to take a back seat even as plans for a 2014 troop withdrawal from Afghanistan enter their next phase.

Obama’s focus on the economy and domestic issues during his annual address to Congress should not come as a surprise, as it has been the main topic of his past four State of the Unions. According to the Washington Post, the president has spent an average of seven minutes on foreign policy and 22 minutes on the economy during his four addresses.

Democrats and Republicans have been at odds on how to reduce the deficit. Obama favors a combination of small spending cuts and tax revenue increases, while the GOP favors larger spending cuts.

College Republicans president Patrick Garrett, a junior in the College of Arts & Sciences, said spending is the most important issue Obama needs to address.

“After seeing tax increases on struggling American families and small business owners, I believe it is time for both parties to address necessary spending cuts in order to reduce the deficit,” Garrett said.

Garrett also spoke about the need for bipartisanship in Congress, as any solution for the struggling economy will require the support of both parties.

“The two most important things are getting the economy back on track and getting the federal budget under control,” Garrett said. “Republicans at both the state and federal levels have proposed initiatives to reduce the tax burden and help the private sector recover, while at the same time providing reforms to reduce waste and inefficiency in government.”

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