Taking aim for the future

By Chelsea Whitton

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I think it may be fair to say the nation now has a general sentiment that “together,” as Obama said often during the speech, is the only way we will move forward economically, socially, environmentally and technologically. The future is about making America “a better place to do business,” he said. I think this is both an economic step in the right direction as well as progress for our place in the international markets.

President Obama’s speech was vague when it came to specific cuts in funds for federal budgets and military expenditures; however, Obama highlighted a couple of important things in his speech – that America’s slipping after years of prosperity has not become a dust bowl of desperation. According to Obama, we have a future in leading the world economically, in international security, technologically and in our education system. “This isn’t about faster internet or fewer dropped calls. It’s about connecting every part of America to the digital age,” Obama said. He said that deficit spending began a decade ago.

“Now that the worst of the recession is over, we have to confront the fact that our government spends more than it takes in.” To do this, annual discretionary domestic spending will be frozen over the next five years, saving $400 billion over the decade and adding to this there will be painful cuts during the next two years due to frozen salaries.

As for our foreign policy, “The Iraq war is coming to an end,” Obama said. It is planned that in July 2011 troops will begin to leave Afghanistan, but he mentioned that “there will be tough fighting ahead.” And in a message to the Taliban and Al Qaeda, he said “We will defeat you.”

Despite his rhetoric largely proposing repair and revamping of the way we view ourselves and our country and the long and hard road ahead of us, we must reflect on how profound of an opportunity we have to be here in America. Think about it. According to the CIA factbook updated in July of 2010, the United States has the third largest population in the world. The average individual income in America has been reported in my classes as anywhere from $41,000 to $47,000 a year. In China, that national average income is a 10th. Do you realize how lucky you are to be a part of this country where we have a media that functions as a watchdog of government leaders, a country that serves as a functioning democracy compared to many others? Though Obama did address that our democracy can clearly be contentious at times, we all have the ability and potential to contribute to this country making it a safe place for all cultures and ethnicities to live, but we also have the ability to seek that our leaders are doing the job they were elected for and this is of course where debate comes in.

Serious subject matter was of course the health care bill, Medicare, successful education fueling the future of America’s children, innovation and technology advancements, domestic production increases, spending cuts and freezes, stricter tax regulation and more money allocated for improving our country’s infrastructure – bridges and roads, which we all can admit, are falling apart. One of the most mentioned needs for advancement was clean energy. This of course also tied in with Obama’s push for every American to have access to the digital age, incorporating this in the American education system, while making living costs more affordable.

Obama ran on the premise of change and the American people have seen change but not the kind they expected. In his last two years of his first term the Obama administration now has a Republican-controlled House and if change was hard before, now health care and tax cuts will be even harder, but his speech Tuesday outlined that we aren’t headed to the last half of his presidency unaware of some extreme challenges to face and defeat.

Chelsea Whitton is a Collegian columnist and can be reached at [email protected]