The Daily Fix: Obama's State of the Union Agenda Would Give Middle Class a Boost but Wouldn't Happen Without Congress

All the news that’s fit to fix on Wednesday, Jan. 21.
Barack Obama signs autographs after his State of the Union address on Jan. 20. (Photo: Mandel Ngan/Reuters)
Jan 21, 2015· 1 MIN READ
Nicole Pasulka is a writer and reporter who lives in New York City. She has written for Mother Jones, BuzzFeed, The Believer, and the New York Observer.

“The shadow of the crisis has passed,” said President Barack Obama during his sixth State of the Union address. He was referring to the recession that has plagued his time in office. As expected, Obama announced his plans for an array of social and economic programs that would overwhelmingly benefit the middle class.

Free community college, paid sick leave, more taxes for the wealthy, and tax credits for education and child care were some of the programs he pledged to put forward this year.

"Will we accept an economy where only a few of us do spectacularly well? Or will we commit ourselves to an economy that generates rising incomes and chances for everyone who makes the effort?" Obama said Tuesday.

The president acknowledged that he needs Congress to pass these proposals but said that he would veto laws that take away health insurance, loosen restrictions on Wall Street, or undermine the executive order to allow around 5 million undocumented immigrants to remain in the country.

In her response, Republican Sen. Joni Ernst, from Iowa, focused on her own experiences growing up poor and working in the biscuit line at Hardee's. She also outlined some Republican priorities for 2015 that sharply conflict with the president's goals. These plans included restrictions on Obamacare, tax reform, abortion regulations, and construction of the Keystone XL pipeline.

“You’ll see a lot of serious work in this new Congress," Ernst said.

In other news…

More Arrests After Hebdo: In the aftermath of the Charlie Hebdo massacre, five Chechens suspected of possessing explosives were arrested in Paris. Officials say that even though explosives were found during a raid, people “shouldn’t jump to conclusions.” (via BBC News)

SCOTUS to Hear Housing Rights Case: On Wednesday the Supreme Court will hear a case that could dramatically weaken the Fair Housing Act of 1968. Thanks to the law, civil rights advocates can challenge a policy that has a discriminatory impact, even if the discrimination isn't intentional. The state of Texas would like to limit fair housing lawsuits to cases in which the discrimination was on purpose. (via The Dallas Morning News)

Harry Potter Fans Unite! After a four-year campaign, the fan activist group the Harry Potter Alliance has succeeded in convincing Warner Bros. to produce Harry Potter–related chocolate from fair trade cocoa. (via Mic)

Muslim Inmates Can Keep Beards: Forcing Muslim prisoners to shave their beards is a violation of their religious liberties, according to a unanimous Supreme Court decision. (via SCOTUSblog)

Yemen in Crisis: Shiite Houthi rebels have seized the presidential palace in Yemen. The location of President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi, an ally in the fight against terrorism in the region, is unknown. (via The New York Times)

After the Spill, Contamination: Authorities in Montana are trying to decontaminate the water system after an ExxonMobil pipeline in the Yellowstone River spilled 50,000 gallons of crude oil. (via The Associated Press)

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