This year’s State of the Union follows the President’s promise that he will make economic inequality a top priority for the rest of his presidency. But what will President Obama say about ending poverty? Here are a few things we hope the President addresses during his speech:
Taking steps toward raising the Federal Minimum Wage.
According to a recent study, American workers’ wages are growing at just 2 percent per year, the slowest rate since at least 1965. As the cost of living rises, an increasing amount of people working minimum wage jobs cannot afford basic needs. Raising the minimum wage is a sure way to improve the quality of life for the working poor.
Media reports this morning say that President Obama is slated to announce that he will sign an executive order raising the federal minimum wage for federal contractors to $10.10 an hour under new and renegotiated contracts. While this is a great first step, we hope Congress will take it even further and work to raise the federal minimum wage for all workers.
Closing the Wage Gap.
As of 2012, women made 77 cents to every dollar men earned. As a result, women are more likely to live in poverty. Raising the federal minimum wage and closing the wage gap go hand in hand in making sure that women can advance themselves and their families.
It is our hope that the State of the Union will be a step towards thinking about solutions to the problem of income inequality. President Obama has already stated that it is a priority – now is the time to put words into action.
Fix the Voting Rights Act to protect voters of color and protect our democracy.
Republican legislators are creating laws that further disenfranchise poor voters and voters of color, such as voter ID laws in North Carolina. The President taking a stand against voter disenfranchisement would be a bold statement and can help fuel the movement to overturn voter suppression laws in every state.
Protect and strengthen safety net programs like SNAP.
Congress has voted to cut funding for SNAP and other programs, making it even harder for low-income people to buy food for themselves and their families. In the President’s State of the Union Address, we are hoping that the President will discuss how protecting SNAP and other safety net programs will work in tandem with raising the minimum wage to end poverty across the nation.