Obama Touches on Community College, Childcare in SOTU

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President Barack Obama unveiled his plans for the next year of his presidency last night in the 2015 State of the Union Address as he discussed an increase in taxes for the wealthy, threats of vetoes to come, and education and child care plans for the middle class.

The president’s tax plan calls for estates to pay capital gains taxes on securities right when they are inherited, and would introduce a fee for the somewhere around 100 US financial firms who hold assets totaling over $50 billion.

The majority of the $320 billion in new taxes and fees would go toward helping the middle class.  Such measures include offering a $500 tax credit to families who have two working spouses, increasing the child care tax credit and creating a $60 billion program that would make it free to attend community college, writes Michael Shear for The New York Times.

“We still live in a country where too many bright, striving Americans are priced out of the education they need,” President Obama said. “It’s not fair to them, and it’s not smart for our future.”

It is expected that by the end of the decade, two out of every three jobs will require a degree in higher education, leading Obama to believe the American workforce needs to be properly skilled to meet these demands.

His proposal would require students to maintain a grade point average of 2.5, and the program would be open to non-traditional students enrolled in a two-year community college program as well, meaning it would not just be open to current high school graduates.

Funding for the program is still being discussed, although the plan is to have the money come from the $320 billion in new taxes and fees.  However, it was made clear that families would no longer be able to withdraw funds from their 529 plans without paying taxes. The plans allow families to invest money without being taxed so long as that money goes toward college expenses.  Earnings would be treated as student income, allowing them to be taxed in a lower bracket, but could possibly make it more difficult for students to gain financial aid, reports Danielle Douglas-Gabriel for The Washington Post.

His speech also highlighted early childhood education as a priority, stating that quality and affordable childcare needed to be accessible to all families.

Obama continued by calling for bills that would offer a tax-credit of up to $3,000 per child for low-income families and would also offer up to seven days of sick leave each year.

He also discussed raising the minimum wage, and making sure that women earn the same amount as men do for performing the same job, writes AJ Moser for The State News.

In addition, the president has promised to veto the efforts of the Republican-led Congress to take down his signature accomplishments including his health care plan and financial reform laws.

“We can’t put the security of families at risk by taking away their health insurance or unraveling the new rules on Wall Street or refighting past battles on immigration when we’ve got a system to fix,” Obama said in his hour-long address. “And if a bill comes to my desk that tries to do any of these things, I will veto it.”