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Senators, professors respond to State of the Union


“Wherever and whenever I can take steps without legislation to expand opportunity for more American families,” President Barack Obama said in his 2014 State of the Union Address, “that’s what I’m going to do.”

Briefly following Obama’s address, Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) issued a statement criticizing what the president said.

“The fact is the president could take several immediate steps to jump-start the economy,” Hatch said. “Get more Americans back to work and provide the tools hard-working families need for greater economic opportunity.”

Hatch said the president won’t respect the legislative branch, which is an equal branch of government under the Constitution. Hatch also said Obama stated he plans to go around Congress on controversial policies.

According to Gary Johnson, an associate professor of political science at Weber State University, the president basically said he isn’t going to waste his time trying to working with Congress.

“Orrin Hatch’s statement is an attempt to undermine the president’s authority on what he said in the State of the Union Address,” Johnson said.

Presidents using executive orders to take steps without legislation is not unprecedented. Presidents George W. Bush, Bill Clinton and Ronald Reagan also used executive orders to pass policies. Obama undid some Bush-era policies achieved through executive orders one day after his inauguration in 2009.

“This is the most interesting part of what happened in the State of the Union,” said Leah Murray, WSU professor of political science. “We have checks and balances to balance the power between legislation and the president. When the president is saying, ‘I am going to use executive power to go around you,’ he is upsetting the balance of power.”

According to a board posted in the Shepherd Union Atrium, a few main political topics are on students’ minds, including immigration and welfare reform, foreign aid in Sudan, the minimum wage, the FDA, national debt, college tuition costs and military support.

“Orrin Hatch saying President Obama has not been good for the economy is simply false,” Johnson said. “This is the strongest economy Barack Obama has had since he became president.”

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics website, unemployment rates are dropping nationwide from December 2012. Within the past year, Utah’s unemployment rate dropped 1.3 percent from 5.4 in December 2012 to 4.1 in December 2013.

“Too many young people entering the work force today will see the American Dream as an empty promise, unless we also do more to make sure our economy honors the dignity of work, and hard work pays off for every American,” Obama said.

A study conducted by Harvard political science professor Robert Putnam found that 10.5 of his 35 students thought of the American Dream as alive and well in their hometowns, according to essays they wrote.

“Today, Americans know in their heart that something is wrong,” said Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) in a statement. “Much of what is wrong relates to the sense that the ‘American Dream’ is falling out of reach for far too many of us.”

Brady Harris, WSU Student Senate president, said he thinks the definition of the American Dream changes every generation. “I truly think the American Dream, or at least the spirit of the American Dream, will always be possible,” he said. “I think the spirit of freedom will never die.”


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