Obama talks minimum wage, energy solutions

President Barack Obama delivers his State of the Union speech during a joint session of Congress on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., Tuesday, January 28, 2014. (Olivier Douliery/Abaca Press/MCT)

President Barack Obama gave his fifth State of the Union address Tuesday night, calling for 2014 to be a year of action.

Some of the highlights of his address include a proposition to raise the federal minimum wage to $10.10 an hour, create new jobs by funding new sources of energy and work with congress to find ways to help college graduates pay off their student loans so that they can get the jobs they want rather than the jobs they need to get by.

“I think there are bigger issues than student loan debt right now,” Josh Richardson, a second year Early College Alliance student said.

Senior and graphic design major Desyree Thomas disagreed, stating that she thinks easing student loan debt would be good for the economy.

“Less people in debt is always good,” Thomas said.

When Obama spoke about shifting major funding from petroleum companies to newer sources of energy, he mentioned that an American home or business goes solar every four minutes.

“Every panel [is] pounded into place by a worker whose job can’t be outsourced,” Obama said in his address.

Thomas thinks that over the years, the United States will stop using so much gas and start using different types of energy.

“We’ve already seen some of the change in our cars,” Thomas said.

ECA student Dennise Vese said she thinks it’s a good thing for the United States to try to be energy-efficient, but isn’t so sure about taking away funding from petroleum companies.

“We need gas,” Vese said. “I think the funding should be split evenly on both sides.”

Finally, Obama addressed the federal minimum wage. He spoke of families living in poverty, despite working fulltime. He has asked congress to work towards raising the federal minimum wage from $7.25 an hour to $10.10 an hour.

ECA student Andrew Richardson is unconvinced that raising the minimum wage will help Americans living in poverty.

“[Businesses] will just mark up prices and minimum wage will cover the same amount it did before,” Andrew Richardson said.

Thomas agrees that raising minimum wage won’t do much to help.

“When minimum wage raises, rent and other prices will raise because businesses know that people have the extra money,” Thomas said.

Over an over, Obama invited congress to make changes with him, but also said he would go it alone. The Obama the nation saw on Tuesday night was one they had not seen since 2009. His fifth State of the Union address highlighted the hope and change he promised from the beginning.

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