Last night, January 20, President Obama delivered his 6th State of the Union address. The overall message was that we have emerged from a crisis to a position of strength. The President focused “less on a checklist of proposals and more on the values at stake in the choices before us.” Here are some of the major points that were covered which the Prevent Cancer Foundation believe are important to the health and wellbeing of individuals and families across the nation:
Health & Health Care
Due to the passage of the Affordable Care Act, more Americans are insured than ever before. In fact, ten million Americans got covered last year—which is almost twice the combined seating of every single NFL, NBA, MLB, and NHL stadium. President Obama stated that he would veto any attempts to put families at risk by taking away their health insurance. The President also referenced Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security as examples of protections that have shielded Americans from adversity.
One of the major announcements that President Obama focused on leading up to the State of the Union was his goal to implement guaranteed paid family and medical leave. According to the President, the U.S. is the only advanced country on Earth that does not guarantee paid sick or maternity leave. Current Family and Medical Leave policy provides 12 weeks of unpaid time off. Prior to the speech, the President announced a mandate that federal employees receive at least six weeks of paid leave after the birth or adoption of a child. This indicates a future push for nationwide guaranteed paid leave. Further, the President will push Congress to pass the Healthy Families Act which would allow U.S. workers to earn up to seven paid sick days per year. States will also be encouraged to implement paid family and sick leave.
The President announced the new Precision Medicine Initiative which would bring us closer to cures for diseases like cancer and diabetes. This initiative would invest greater resources into medical research and technology. He noted that it would give all Americans access to the personalized information we need to keep ourselves and our families healthier
Economy & Prosperity
The overall focus of this year’s State of the Union was on the middle class. President Obama touted that the economy is growing and we have created jobs at the fastest pace since 1999 with an unemployment rate that is lower than it was before the financial crisis began in 2007. Since 2010, America has put more people back to work than all advanced economies combined.
The President also focused on an economy that works for everyone, not just the wealthy. He spoke about sensible regulations in order to prevent another financial meltdown and stated that middle-class economics work and that the country does best when everyone gets their fair shot. He noted that we cannot halt progress or put the economy at risk with government shutdowns or fiscal showdowns.
Specifically, the President outlined policies on: affordable, high quality childcare; guaranteed paid family and sick leave; pay equity; raising the minimum wage; waiving community college tuition; enhanced job training; and strengthening our national infrastructure.
President Obama closed his hour-long speech by stating our commitment to justice and our respect for human dignity and civil rights. He noted that our values, as Americans, are what make us exceptional and keep us strong. The President encouraged Members of Congress to appeal to each other’s basic decency instead of their basest fears as they work over the next two years to strengthen our nation.
Don’t forget to sign up for more advocacy information from the Prevent Cancer Foundation.