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President Obama’s State of the Union address created challenges, controversy

President Barack Obama

President Barack Obama

President Obama’s State of the Union address created challenges, controversy

By Derek Joy

President Barack Obama did the obvious when he delivered his fifth State of the Union Address.

The obvious was to present the kinds of challenges for Congress, and the American citizenry, that stirred controversy – especially among Republicans.

A plan to raise the minimum wage to $10.00 for workers of federal government contractors was just one source of controversy. The Affordable Health Care Act was another.

So, Republicans offered a rebuttal on many fronts, including Miami Republican Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, who did so in Spanish throughout the Spanish Media, and Florida’s Junior Senator Marco Rubio (Republican, Miami).

Black Americans, however, offered wholehearted support of the President’s vision and plans for moving America forward.

“I think that’s the type of bold leadership we expect from our President,” said Florida State Senator Oscar Braynon II (Dem., Miami Gardens). “Our President will act with or without Congress.

“George Bush and Dick Chaney did the same thing at a record pace. What’s good for the goose is good for the gander.  I’m ecstatic about it.  He’s acting on behalf of the American people”.

“That sets the tone for what’s about to happen.  It’s a precursor to what’s about to happen.  It’s not just the minimum wage for employees of federal contractors. That’s why I’m excited.”

Braynon spoke of President Obama’s intent to exercise Executive Privilege to accomplish certain actions that Congress fails to act on.  It is what created the most controversy.

Republicans were angered over the thought of President Obama exercising Executive Privileges.  Yet they failed to mentioned that Ronald Reagan exercised Executive Privilege at a record level and Bush 43 was not far behind.

“It was good he’s pursuing raising the minimum wage,” said Angela Yalledy, a member of St. Paul AME Church in Miami.  Too many people need.  Not just Blacks, but people all over America.”  Adding a different perspective, Miami Gardens Mayor Oliver Gilbert III weighed in.

“Generally speaking, I think he outlined where the country needs to go,” said Gilbert.  “Whether we can move past the politics in implementing policies that are good for the people.  And that’s what he’s done.  He challenged Congress.”

Putting America back to work was another point of contention for Republicans in Congress, who disagreed with President Obama’s plans to create jobs.

Interestingly enough, some among people of color find the responses of Republicans to be nothing more than the devil getting busy.

“Yes.  That’s my President,” said Janet Saunders of Miami.  “There’s nothing they can do a-bout him.  God has a lot more work for him to do.”

Said Pamela Henry Lewis, editor of the Westside Gazette:  “He sure did create challenges.  He calls it like it is. Whites got busy.”

Mary Sims McCall, a Miami native and long time resident of Seminole County, said:  “The devil is always busy.”

Along the lines of moving toward full employment, Congresswoman Frederica Wilson (Dem., Miami) and Congressman John Conyers (Dem., Detroit) organized the Congressional Full Employment Caucus and hosted a forum entitled, “Employment: A Human Right.”

In support of President Obama’s vision to put Americans back to work, Wilson and the Caucus released a statement.

“In 2013, 25 percent of the U.S. population was unemployed or underemployed and not earning enough to support basic needs. As employment is the best way to boost Americans’ purchasing power, the right to employment should be seen as the critical foundation of our economic and political systems.”

“If society cannot assure the survival of all citizens through access to employment, government has an important role to play in seeking to create the conditions to enable full employment,” Wilson said.


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