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Give Obama a break

In his final State of the Union, President Barack Obama did an excellent job at addressing the progress he has made throughout his eight years in office. From ending the war in Iraq, which felt like it went on for ages, to fighting to stabilize a struggling economy, Obama has done a lot for America.

During his presidency, the economy was portrayed as unstable, and thought to be constantly declining as the debt rose above the $10.6 trillion that Obama inherited. On the contrary, Obama exclaimed that “anyone claiming that America’s economy is in decline is peddling fiction.” In fact, America has witnessed a substantial job growth through the creation of 14 million jobs during his term, the strongest growth we’ve seen in two years since the ’90s. The decrease in the unemployment rate by one half also proves otherwise.

As students, we should take a second to appreciate that he kept his word about the educational reform he promised before taking office. A strong education is necessary for the foundation of growth for any country. As part of the healthcare reform bill, Obama was able to save money and create more Pell Grant opportunities by ending the ancient practice of subsidizing banks to provide college loans. The Treasury was projected to save $67 billion from 2010 to 2020 — $36 billion of the money saved was used to expand Pell Grants for low-income students.

While working with the Department of Education, Obama also helped establish a commitment of $4.35 billion for grants to reward states for educational reform, and tried to limit the damage caused by for-profit colleges. By limiting the availability of federal student aid for such universities, he was able to guide students to better schools.

With his emphasis on planning for the future throughout the speech, Obama focused on the many different issues and topics that need to be addressed in the upcoming election. Clean energy, better foreign policy when dealing with terrorism and healthcare are among the many things that need continual reform to acclimate the country to its changing needs.

There are costs and benefits to every decision that is made by the president and not everyone will be happy with them. Regardless of whether or not his plans worked as intended, Obama strived to create opportunities, whether they be educational, health or employment, in order to make our country a better place. He has done a good job in creating the framework for his vision of an ideal future. Obama took negativity and frustration and turned it into a sense of hope and optimism. He created a positive attitude that will continue to drive our country towards a better future.