In his sixth annual address, President Barack Obama proposed new initiatives aimed at helping to bolster the American middle class. Among them, Obama suggested lawmakers focus on raising the minimum wage, making available affordable childcare through a $3000 per child per year tax credit, and having the first two years at community colleges across the country be free of charge to those who qualify.
Peter Corroon, Utah’s Democratic Party Chair, said he agrees with the President’s plan to strengthen the nation through the middle class.
“The President clearly indicated that a lot of positive things have happened over the last seven years, but we still have the middle class we still need to work to make strong and make our nation strong while doing so,” he said.
The President also appealed to Republican and Democratic lawmakers alike to begin to work together to bring about progress. Corroon said he believes Utah lawmakers agree but are often held back by their party.
“We’d love to see the President and our Utah delegation working together. Ultimately, that’s how we’re going to get things done,” he said. “Unfortunately, in Utah, because we’re such a Republican state, a lot of our federal delegation is beholden to their delegates.”
James Evans, Utah’s Republican Party Chair, agreed Obama did appeal for bipartisanship in his address but said Republicans are often pushed into a corner through legislative proposals.
“Well, I think the speech was consistent with Pres. Obama where there was an appeal for bipartisanship. It seemed like it was a mix of different signals.” He said. “President Obama has been very skillful at setting up something that people would really want and then trapping Republicans into saying ‘no.’”
In reference to the child care tax credit, Evans said Utah lawmakers have already been advocating for similar action.
“That’s in keeping with what Sen. Lee has already proposed. He proposed expanding the child tax credit,” he said. “The more money parents can have in their pockets to care for their kids is a better way for society to operate.”
This year’s State of the Union address is Pres. Obama’s second to last before the 2016 elections.