President Barack Obama delivered his sixth State of the Union address Tuesday evening on the floor of the House of Representatives in the Capitol Building in Washington D.C.
“…Tonight, we turn the page,” Obama said. “Tonight, after a breakthrough year for America, our economy is growing and creating jobs at the fastest pace since 1999. Our unemployment rate is now lower than it was before the financial crisis. More of our kids are graduating than ever before. More of our people are insured than ever before.”
Many pundits agreed that the president’s address was delivered from position of governance and strength, afforded to him by a rising approval rating due to recent economic growth in the U.S. economy and drop in the national unemployment rate. A stark contrast to the slumping numbers he experienced a mere two months ago during November’s midterm election.
In his speech, Obama stressed the importance of middle-class economics and proposed tax relief to middle income families, child care assistance to families who have both parents working, paid sick leave and free community college to all Americans.
The Republican Party’s rebuttal speech was delivered by freshmen Iowa Sen. Joni Ernst who drew fame over the election trail during last year’s midterm election by likening her experiences castrating hogs on her Iowa farm to “cutting pork” in Washington D.C.
“The new Republican Congress also understands how difficult these past six years have been,” Ernst said. “For many of us, the sting of the economy and the frustration with Washington’s dysfunction weren’t things we had to read about. We felt them every day.”
While both the president and the GOP spoke of leaving partisan politics and a dysfunctional Washington D.C. behind, their messages to each other were sometimes confrontational and highlighted how far apart compromise between the parties actually is.
“Americans have been hurting, but when we demanded solutions. Too often Washington responded with the same stale mindset that led to failed policies like Obamacare,” Ernst said. “It’s a mindset that gave us political talking points, not serious solutions.”
The president took his at his opposition as well, reminding the room that he too won two national elections and that his policies were good for the country.
“At every step, we were told our goals were misguided or too ambitious; that we would crush jobs and explode deficits,” Obama said. “Instead, we’ve seen the fastest economic growth in over a decade, our deficits cut by two-thirds, a stock market that has doubled, and health care inflation at its lowest rate in 50 years. This is good news, people.”