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A closer look at the President’s “ambitious agenda

The State of the Union is good, and President Barack Obama was optimistic in his annual address to Congress. The backdrop for the President’s ” ambition agenda ” and ” assertive ” call to action was good economic news and the absence of election campaigns. Scholars from all over the US share their thoughts on the items the President has included in his agenda.

Tax proposals are progressive but not populist

Elizabeth Pearson University of California Berkeley

The State of the Union Tax proposals were the foundation of the “middle-class economics” that President Obama outlined in his address.

The proposed tax changes were more progressive than populist. They would raise taxes on the richest Americans and use the new revenue to fund initiatives aimed at working- and middle-class families. However, the speech didn’t emphasize the role of the tax system in addressing poverty or income inequality.

According to specifics provided by the White House, the tax increases consist of three main components. They include raising the capital gains tax rate, imposing a charge on large financial institutions, and removing the tax exemption for wealthy estates.

Increased revenues could fund expanded child care tax credits, new tax credits for households with two earners, and additional tax credits to help pay for higher education.

Republicans in Congress may be open to using tax credits as a way to provide benefits to working families. However, raising taxes on the wealthy and large firms to pay for such credits will not work. Obama’s State of the Union Tax proposals should be viewed as an attempt to set the tone for the 2016 Democratic Party Platform, which will focus on middle-class families.

President Obama and the budget: expect more gridlock, no solutions to long-term problems

Philip Joyce University of Maryland School of Public Policy

The State of the Union speech is an opportunity for presidents to express their views, and President Obama did not disappoint.

What was not stated explicitly is what scholars Laura Perna, Joni Finney, and others document: that one of the key factors that distinguishes economically prosperous nations from those that are poorer is the degree to which the most impoverished citizens have the opportunity to increase their education. This can translate into skills that can enhance national economic development.

The President’s proposals may have been short on details, but their substance shows that the United States is indeed taking small steps to regain its global leadership in educational attainment.

Obama highlighted notable achievements in math scores and high school graduation rates. He also highlighted college enrollment. These rates are unacceptable for the poorest Americans. Here’s why a proposal for free community colleges – the new standard of the 21st-century American Dream – could be a solution.

The free college program may offer the best opportunity to the middle class for entry into the 21st-century economy. Many people had never imagined this possibility. This proposal does not come without its challenges. Still, it can send a strong and clear message to those who are otherwise receiving confusing or little information about how to gain access to higher education.

The President did not discuss the controversial proposals of his administration to create a new rating system for colleges. He focused instead on the bricks-and-mortar to build a new educational standard in America and reduce student debt.

This strategy addresses the opportunity gaps for those who still believe that mobility is possible, as well as ways to maintain any mobility hard-earned. These efforts will make the next generation stronger.

A lost opportunity to chart education

Arnold F. Shober Lawrence University

The sixth State of the Union address by President Obama was a missed chance for American education.

He did mention community colleges, but he didn’t say that this Congress must reauthorize the federal laws supporting K-12 education and higher education.

No Child Left Behind Act, as well as the Higher Education Act, have been reauthorized for the last time with bipartisan support in 2001 and 2008.

Both bills have been a compromise between President Obama and several Republicans. In K-12 education, the President is in favor of some school choice, and he also supports public accountability. Some Republicans share his view on streamlining student aid financing and requiring some form of accountability in higher education. He could have offered an olive branch to these upcoming bills during the State of the Union.

The majority party is unlikely to be impressed by the plan for community colleges that the President has put forward.

Republicans will likely hear about a proposal that would increase federal spending and expand mandates on graduation and grades. Both are unlikely to be well received by Representative John Kline, R-MN, or Senator Lamar Alexander, R-TN. They both chair the education committees of Congress. Alexander is a particularly ardent opponent of federal regulation in higher education.

Obama appeared to be trying hard to tame Republicans and suggest policies that were a little more left than in previous speeches.

This is a missed opportunity. The President has implemented his education agenda by means of temporary waivers and regulations that a future administration can easily revoke. It was his last opportunity to solidify his vision for American Education.

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Jane S. King

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