On Wednesday, US President Barack Obama delivered his final State of the Union address. In his speech Obama outlined his administration’s policy agenda for the coming year. He spoke on issues like terrorism, gun control measures, economy and climate change. He also took the opportunity to target Republicans, especially Donald Trump who had called for a temporary ban on all Muslims entering the US.
“We need to reject any politics that targets people because of race or religion …. When politicians insult Muslims, when a mosque is vandalised, or a kid bullied, that doesn’t make us safer,” Obama said in his hour-long prime-time speech.
Obama also warned of the threat America faces from ISIL and Al Qaida.
“Both al Qaeda and now ISIL pose a direct threat to our people, because in today’s world, even a handful of terrorists who place no value on human life, including their own, can do a lot of damage,” the President said.
“Our foreign policy must be focused on the threat from ISIL and al Qaeda, but it can’t stop there. For even without ISIL, instability will continue for decades in many parts of the world in the Middle East, in Afghanistan and Pakistan, in parts of Central America, Africa and Asia. Some of these places may become safe havens for new terrorist networks,” he added.
However, Obama’s last address focused more on cementing his legacy rather than unveiling new policies.
Obama hailed the American economy as the “strongest” and most durable economy in the world and dismissed all talks about an economic decline.
“The talk of America’s economic decline is political hot air. Well, so is all the rhetoric you hear about our enemies getting stronger and America getting weaker. The United States of America is the most powerful nation on Earth,” Obama announced to the Congress.
“I will keep pushing for progress on the work that I believe still needs to be done: fixing a broken immigration system… protecting our kids from gun violence, equal pay for equal work, paid leave, raising the minimum wage,” he said amidst a big applause.
The President also spoke on issues like climate change and vowed to work towards clean energy.
However, he also spoke about what he regretted the most during his past 7 years of presidency.
“It’s one of the few regrets of my presidency, that the rancour and suspicion between the parties has gotten worse instead of better,” he said in his eighth and final address to the Congress.
Indian-American Republican Governor Nikki Haley criticised President Obama’s policies as having “fallen far short of his soaring words” in her response to the State of the Union address.
“Barack Obama’s election as president seven years ago broke historic barriers and inspired millions of Americans. As he did when he first ran for office, tonight President Obama spoke eloquently about grand things. He is at his best when he does that…. Unfortunately, the President’s record has often fallen far short of his soaring words,” 43-year-old Haley said.
“As he enters his final year in office, many Americans are still feeling the squeeze of an economy too weak to raise income levels. We’re feeling a crushing national debt, a health care plan that has made insurance less affordable and doctors less available, and chaotic unrest in many of our cities,” said Haley while slamming Obama’s policy.
(With inputs from agencies)